An attorney at the Santa Cruz County Mock Trial competition presents their case.


Students Throughout California Vying for Top Prize at 2024 Mock Trial Finals

31 counties to participate in finals this week in Los Angeles for shot at national championship
Mar 19, 2024

Update - March 26, 2024: Trinity Pacific Christian School in Ventura County has won the 2024 California Mock Trial Competition and will compete in the National High School Mock Trial Competition in May. See the full awards recipient list.

Thousands of young people put on their best suits this spring in hopes of taking home the title—not of best dressed, but of best advocate.

After weeks of competition in the courtroom, those thousands of well-dressed young people have been narrowed down as students from 31 California counties gear up for this year's finals of the California Mock Trial Competition, which takes place in Los Angeles from March 22-24.

Participants will argue the fictitious homicide case People v. Clark. The defendant Tobie Clark, who works as in-house counsel at a billion-dollar medical technology company, has been charged with the homicide of the company's chief executive officer. The prosecution argues that Clark should be convicted of first-degree murder, and the pretrial issue centers on the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

The Constitutional Rights Foundation, now known as Teach Democracy, created the California Mock Trial Program in 1980. The statewide program stemmed from a successful model in Los Angeles County and helps students acquire a working knowledge of the judicial system, develop analytical abilities and communication skills, and gain an understanding of their obligations and responsibilities as participating members of our society.

In addition to the mock trials themselves, counties award individual honors to students in courtroom artist and journalist contests.

The winner of the statewide finals will advance to the National High School Mock Trial Championship in Wilmington, Delaware from May 2-5.

Here are some highlights from county competitions:

2024 Mock Trial Competitions

Contra Costa

California High School won the competition for the seventh consecutive year, defeating Campolindo High School. In its 43rd year, the competition included 17 schools from across Contra Costa County, 44 separate trials that took place in-person at the A.F Bray Courthouse in Martinez, and more than 140 judges, local attorneys, and volunteers who presided over the proceedings, scored trials, and served as courtroom coordinators.


Centennial High School won for the fifth year in a row and for the ninth time in the last ten years. Local attorney Abby Auffant, who has judged the competition for many years, said “The students give me faith in our next generation – whether they are our next generation of attorneys or not."


University High School in Irvine won the competition over Trabuco Hills High School in Mission Viejo. Orange County has the second largest mock trial program in the state after Los Angeles County.

At an awards reception next month, the Elizabeth G. Macias Academy Mock Trial team from Santa Ana High School will be awarded the Civility Award for demonstrating civility and the highest legal ethics during the competition. The team seeks to establish a pipeline of diverse students, including first-generation students, English-as-a-second-language students, and at-risk youth from high schools, community colleges, four-year institutions, and law schools so that the legal profession reflects the diverse population of California.


Poly High School defeated Notre Dame High School for their 20th title in 42 years of the county competition's history.

San Diego

Now in its 18th year, a total of 747 San Diego County high school students participated in the event, making it the largest competition in the county to date. Students from 37 San Diego County high schools have fielded 38 teams during the competition.

Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz High School won the county competition after a rare tied score against co-finalist Pacific Collegiate School was broken by Santa Cruz Presiding Judge Syda Cogliati, per mock trial rules.

Additionally, first-time competitors Pajaro Valley High School earned the inaugural Paul Marigonda Award, presented by the Santa Cruz Trial Lawyers Association. Honoring the late Judge Paul Marigonda, the award recognizes a team for demonstrating exceptional courage, commitment, and integrity.


The silver Redwood High School team won the county competition over University Preparatory High School. Redwood had entered two teams into the competition. The finals took place at the Granite Hills High School Legal Justice Center in Porterville, a three-year-old educational facility replicating a real-life courtroom.

California high schools have placed in first or second place four times in the National Mock Trial Competition since 1984. In 1989, John Marshall High School in Los Angeles County placed in second; in 1994, Arlington High School in Riverside County won the championship; in 2005, Tamalpais High School in Marin County won the championship; and in 2013, La Reina High School in Ventura County placed in second.