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California Mock Trials Return to the Courtroom to Showcase Emerging Legal Talents



Recent social media posts from courts and educators in California tell the stories of courtrooms staying open on nights and weekends for the return of the Mock Trial Program, an annual competition held remotely for the last two years. Due to the pandemic, some schools had to suspend programs during the 2021 and 2022 seasons. 

"I'm excited to see so many of our schools prioritizing this program once again now that they're back to in-person learning," says San Diego Superior Court Judge Carolyn Caietti, a member of the Chief Justice's Power of Democracy Steering Committee. "This is our 17th year and we expect to host more than 700 students from San Diego schools." 

Approximately 8,000 high school students participate annually in the California Rights Foundation (CRF) Mock Trial Program, with support from the American Board of Trial Attorneys (ABOTA).

Today's mock trial model evolved from a successful Los Angeles County program in 1980. CRF helped expand it statewide, and today it reaches 38 counties. Some local high school teams are more than 40 years old, while others got their start in recent years. Programs receive support from County Offices of Education, their local court, non-profit organizations, and local bar associations.

Last year's championship round streamed live on YouTube. Second District Court of Appeal Associate Justice Steven Z. Perren, a proponent and program advocate for decades, presided over the event:


This year, the State Finals will be held in person, as 38 county winners moved on to the state competition. All hope to represent California at Nationals in Little Rock, Arkansas May 18-20. California has won the national title twice. 

Even though the competition season is coming to a close, the program has ignited a passion for the law that may lead many of the participants to pursue a legal education and eventually a legal career. 


The Constitutional Rights Foundation website offers information about volunteering for the State Finals, as well a link for viewing the event live on YouTube.

How Do I Start a Mock Trial Program at My School?  
It's easy. All you need is a teacher sponsor and a minimum of eight students who want to learn about the American legal system. You will also need time. The competition requires participants to practice roles, learn legal concepts, and create persuasive arguments. See this webcast on How to Prepare a Team for Mock Trial from the Constitutional Rights Foundation.