San Mateo County Mock Trial

judge's gavel



Team Information

Register with CRF

CRF requires that all team members and schools register online. This gives students access to the CRF website and allows them to participate in the Mock Trial chat room. You can register HERE.

Team Roles

A school’s Mock Trial Team has eighteen roles which are divided between a Prosecution and a Defense.

A Pretrial-motion attorney will argue a legal question prior to the beginning of the trial itself. The Defense will move, or ask the judge, to suppress certain evidence which the Defense thinks should not be presented in the trial. The defense may allege that the police have taken the evidence in violation of the rules of evidence or that the evidence itself is tainted in some way. The judge will listen to the arguments of both sides—occasionally interrupting the argument to ask questions. The presiding judge’s decision will affect the conduct of the trial for the evidence will either be allowed or denied. Mock Trial attorneys and witnesses must adjust their planned testimony based on the judge’s decision.

Each side has three attorneys who work as a team. They divide the work which includes the opening statement, the examination of witnesses, and the closing argument. They must know the Mock Trial rules of evidence and be able to properly object to questionable evidence as well as defend the evidence presented by their own witnesses.

Four witnesses are called by each side during the trial. They base their testimony on witness statements in the casebook.

Additionally, the Prosecution has a clerk, who is the timekeeper, and the Defense has a bailiff who swears in the witnesses.

Roles of Teacher-Advisors and Attorney-Coaches

In the course of their work teachers and attorneys have similar responsibilities. They are used to taking charge, calling the shots on how work is to be performed and are responsible for the outcome. In Mock Trial they know that they have different tasks, but it isn’t always easy to be clear about what that is. Clarity about the roles is further complicated by the lack of time for conversation between the two. Naturally, just as there are alternative theories of a case there are different ideas about how a case should be conducted. If a teacher is asked a question by a team member in the middle of the school day, the teacher will do their best to give an honest answer. Later on that reply might conflict with what the attorney coach is saying. The same problem can occur even between attorneys themselves. An example, one attorney may prefer a very formal approach to a judge. That attorney may tell the team, “You will always stand up when you address the judge.” Another attorney may think that proper respect does not always require popping up like a jack-in-the-box. One attorney may say that you should always thank the judge for a ruling even when you lose an objection. Another thinks that too obsequious. For team members multiple voices can be even more of a problem if the team has several attorney coaches. Students should feel comfortable about asking for clarification when there seems to be a conflict. The apparent conflict may be a matter of personal style, values, or experience, or it could be a serious misunderstanding. Discussion often clarifies.

In a sense, the beauty in bringing the two professions together is the collaboration to help students understand a very complex system. Attorneys bring their training and experience in the law. Teachers bring the skills needed to work effectively with students. While both know something about the other's job, being on the job day after day provides a depth not easily obtainable in any other way.

In the Forms section of this website are several documents that are helpful to teachers and attorneys: The General Check List, Keys to Success, Theory of the Case, and First Night of Competition.

Code of Ethics

The standards for participation in Mock Trial are described in the case book on page 4 and are briefly referred to in the Code of Ethics Form that team members sign. The core of Mock Trial ethics is the same standard expected of students in their academic performance. That specifically means that plagiarism is unacceptable, and thus both CRF and SMCMT don't permit scouting by anyone.