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What is Mock Trial?

Mock Trial Home > What is Mock Trial?

In 1980, Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF) introduced the Mock Trial program, which already had a strong following in Los Angeles County, to all the counties in California. The program was created to help students acquire a working knowledge of our judicial system, develop analytical abilities and communication skills, and gain an understanding of their obligations and responsibilities as participating members of our society. The program currently involves 36 California counties.

The case

Each year, CRF creates and produces a new set of Mock Trial materials based on an important issue facing America's youth. The materials include a hypothetical criminal case (including summaries of case law, witness statements, official exhibits, and simplified rules of evidence); lesson plans on the central issues in the case; and competition rules and guidelines. Mock Trial materials from past years are available for purchase through our catalog.

The students

With the assistance of a teacher and attorney coach, CRF's Mock Trial program actively engages over 8,000 student-participants across the state of California. Students actively experience the excitement of working in teams, exchanging ideas, setting goals, and examining issues while interacting with positive role models from their communities. By studying the case and preparing strategies and arguments for trial, students also develop presentation skills, analytic ability, and team cooperation.  

The Trials

Cases are released to all California counties in the early fall. Typically, a county competition occurs in late fall or early spring, with anywhere from two to six rounds of trials. The winners of the county competitions go on to the State Finals in March. In May, the winner of the state competition represents California at the annual National High School Mock Trial Competition, involving teams from 54 states and territories.  

Judge and Attorney volunteers

Each year thousands of members from California's bar and bench volunteer their time to make the Mock Trial an educational and exciting experience for students. Attorneys serve in a variety of roles- acting as team coaches, scoring, and presiding over trials.

How Do I Start A Mock Trial?  

It's easy to bring the mock trial program to your school. 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 about legal concepts and create persuasive arguments. See webcast How to Prepare a Team for Mock Trial.