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Image of a courtroom.
Congratulations to all the high school teams who have been chosen to participate in this year's upcoming mock trials at the Madera Courthouse. Good luck, everyone!

Madera County’s Mock Trials Helps Prepare Students for Court

MADERA COUNTY — Jordan Franks will be charged with robbery and battery during this year’s Honorable Edward P. Moffat Madera County Mock Trial on February 8, 9, 15, and 16.

Image of the Madera County logo.The Mock Trial is a simulation of a court case with high school students acting as attorneys, witnesses, clerks and bailiffs.  This year students will try the fictional case People vs. Franks.

Mock Trial students will also be discussing the Fourth Amendment during the pretrial and whether or not the detective’s search was constitutional.

High school students from Madera South High School, Matilda Torres High School, Minarets High School and Yosemite High School will be competing.

Image of Dr. Cecilia Massetti.

Dr. Cecilia Massetti.

“We are pleased to once again offer this incredible learning experience for students in Madera County for 39th year,” said Dr. Cecilia Massetti, Madera County Superintendent of Schools. “Over the years, students have acquired knowledge about the workings of our justice system and demonstrated public speaking skills, research, and analytical skills throughout performances.”

The Honorable Edward P. Moffat Mock Trial begins on Wednesday, February 8 at the Madera Courthouse. See map below. On Thursday, February 9 the second round of trials will take place, and the last set of regular competition trials will be held on Wednesday, February 15.  All weekday trials begin at 1:30 p.m.

Image of the Madera County Schools Foundation logo.Madera County Superintendent of Schools and Madera County Schools Foundation will hold this fictional court case at the Madera Courthouse. The Madera County Superior Court is co-sponsoring the competition.

The championship trial will take place on Thursday, February 16 at the Madera Courthouse beginning at 3:30 p.m.  The two highest scoring teams from the previous rounds will compete in a winner-take-all competition to advance to the state finals in Los Angeles.

Image of the Madera County Superintendent of Schools logo.The Mock Trial awards ceremony will be held on Wednesday, February 15 at 6:30 p.m. at the office of Madera County Superintendent of Schools.  The two teams advancing to the championship round will be announced and nominated students will receive honorable mention and outstanding student certificates.  All students will receive a certificate of participation and pin.

Judge Austin, Judge Blea, Judge LiCalsi, Judge Rigby, and Judge Vogt will preside over the trials this year.

Image of the scales of justice with a gun on one side and a gavel on the other. Each school will provide a prosecution and defense team.  Rounds consist of one school’s defense team going up against another school’s prosecution team.  All teams will compete against each other twice, once as prosecution and once as defense during the competition.

The Mock Trial is designed to help students understand the workings of legal institutions. The teams are coached by volunteer attorneys in courtroom procedures and trial preparations.

“This hands-on program provides immediate feedback and assessment from experts and connects students with local attorneys who serve as mentors for school teams,” said Dr. Massetti.

Image of Sally Moreno.

District Attorney Sally Moreno.

Attorneys and legal professionals from throughout the Valley will volunteer as scoring attorneys at the trial. Volunteers include Nina Benjamin, Jeff Dupras, Barbara Liss, Sally Moreno, Steve Mortimer, Kevin Schwin, and Traci Wise.

The winner of the competition will advance to the state competition March 17-19, 2023, in Los Angeles, CA.

In 2010 the Mock Trial was renamed the Honorable Edward P. Moffat Madera County Mock Trial in honor of the late Judge Moffat who was a longtime supporter of the program.

California Rights Foundation provided the trial cases.

For more information, contact Kristi Winter, Coordinator, Student Events, Madera County Superintendent of Schools at 559-662-3873.

Madera County Courthouse
200 South G Street
Madera, CA 93637

How to Win a Mock Trial
Image of a law library.

Image by Clint McKoy.

A mock trial is a simulation of a court trial where participants act as lawyers, witnesses, and judges to learn about the legal system and improve their public speaking and critical thinking skills. Winning a mock trial requires a combination of legal knowledge, strategy, and performance skills.

Here are some tips for winning a mock trial:

Preparation: The key to winning a mock trial is preparation. Start by familiarizing yourself with the facts of the case, the rules of evidence, and the legal theories involved. Research the relevant laws and precedents, and study the witnesses’ statements and depositions. Additionally, practice your opening and closing arguments, direct and cross-examination techniques, and objections to build your confidence and skills.

Effective Communication: A strong and clear performance is essential for winning a mock trial. Speak confidently and clearly, use gestures and eye contact to engage the jury, and make sure to use evidence to support your arguments. During cross-examination, ask questions that highlight the weaknesses in the opposing side’s case, but do not make statements or ask leading questions.

Image of a statue of Liberty holding up the scales of justice.

Image by Ezequiel Octaviano.

Knowledge of Evidence: Knowledge of evidence is crucial to winning a mock trial. Understanding the rules of evidence and how to use them to your advantage can help you build a strong case and impeach the opposing side’s witnesses. Use the evidence to support your arguments, and make sure to object to any evidence that is irrelevant or prejudicial.

Effective Storytelling: A mock trial is a story that you tell to the jury. Use a compelling narrative to explain the facts of the case, present your arguments, and persuade the jury to see your point of view. Tell the story in a clear and concise manner, using visual aids and props to help illustrate your points.

Image of the inside of a courtroom. Collaboration: Work with your co-counsel, witnesses, and other team members to build a strong case. Make sure everyone is on the same page, and assign specific tasks and responsibilities to each team member. In addition, work with the judge to ensure that the trial runs smoothly and that the rules of evidence are properly followed.

Rebuttal: Rebuttal is an important part of a mock trial, as it allows you to respond to the opposing side’s arguments and evidence. Prepare a strong rebuttal strategy, and make sure to address the key points raised by the opposing side. Use evidence and argument to counter their case and to support your own.

Image of a judge's gavel.Closing Argument: The closing argument is your last chance to make a lasting impression on the jury. Use it to summarize your case, emphasize the key points, and persuade the jury to see your point of view. Be concise and persuasive, and use evidence and logic to support your arguments.

In conclusion, winning a mock trial requires preparation, effective communication, knowledge of evidence, effective storytelling, collaboration, and a strong closing argument. By following these tips, you can improve your chances of success and gain valuable experience and skills in the legal field. Whether you are a student or a professional, participating in a mock trial is a great way to learn about the legal system and improve your public speaking and critical thinking skills.

Check out this short video on some more tips on winning a mock trial!

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