Four teams of students from area high schools will lock horns in Riverside today to battle for first place in the 30th annual Riverside County Mock Trial Competition.
The contest began a month ago with more than 500 students from 26 high schools vying for a spot in the final round.
Beginning at 9 a.m., Riverside Poly High School will square off against Great Oak High School of Temecula, while teams from Temecula Valley High School and King High School of Riverside will also pit wits to achieve the highest possible score.
Whichever of the four teams emerges with the most points in the final round will go on to represent the county in the California State Mock Trial Competition, slated for March 22-24 in Riverside.
An awards ceremony is planned late this afternoon, with plaques and medals going to teams that win first-, second- and third-place in the countywide meet.
The county began holding student-level mock trials in 1983, and since then, more than 11,000 youths have participated, according to the county Office of Education, which sponsors the effort along with the Riverside County Bar Association and the Superior Court.
This year’s contest challenged students to successfully argue the case of People v. Vega, based on a non-fatal hit-and-run where a bicyclist was struck by a motorist allegedly texting while driving.
Students were required to work through issues surrounding the reliability of witnesses and whether the defendant was properly Mirandized, according to a mock trial brief.
Practicing attorneys and judges assess students’ performances and award points according to criteria established for the competition.