17th Annual San Diego County High School Mock Trial Competition Brings 700+ Students to Court

4th Amendment, Unreasonable Search & Seizure Issues Argued in Court

Feb 21, 2023
Students competing at the SD County HS Mock Trial

The 17th Annual San Diego County High School Mock Trial Competition fielded a record number of competitors with local high school students arguing a realistic criminal trial scenario.

Mock Trial is a program that gives students hands-on experience in learning about the law and the Constitution. This year’s trial covers robbery and battery charges and the pretrial issue involves the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure. Students argue the question of whether a warrant was needed to search a safe, and accordingly whether or not the evidence should be allowed at the trial.

A total of 755 San Diego County high school students are participating in the event, making it the largest competition to date. Students from 38 San Diego County high schools have fielded 39 teams during the competition. The first two rounds of trials were held in early February and the third round will be this week. The fourth round will be held this Saturday morning, February 25, with the awards ceremony and semi-final round to follow in the afternoon. The championship round will be held on Tuesday, February 28. The local winner will advance to and represent San Diego County in the Statewide Mock Trial Competition next month.

The Mock Trial competition places high school students in realistic courtroom settings before actual state and federal judges. In those courtrooms, the students assume the roles of lawyers, witnesses, clerks, and bailiffs facing off on a hypothetical case.

“The San Diego County High School Mock Trial Competition is a formative event in the lives of these high school students as they hone their public speaking and critical thinking skills, while also learning about our country’s justice system,” said Judge Michael Smyth, Presiding Judge of the San Diego Superior Court. “They take this competition very seriously, and it is gratifying to see the students perform with such pride following months of hard work and preparation.”

The annual Mock Trial Competition is a premier civic and legal event. State and federal judges volunteer their time during the trials and attorneys from different practice areas throughout the County spend many hours coaching the high school students and/or serving as scorers during the competition.

The annual event is hosted at the San Diego Superior Court’s Central Courthouse and is run by the Mock Trial Committee which includes representatives from the San Diego Superior Court, the San Diego County Bar Association, U.S. District Court Southern District of California, San Diego County Office of Education, San Diego City Attorney’s Office, San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, San Diego County Public Defender’s Office, Federal Defenders, Inc., U.S. Attorney’s Office, and San Diego Paralegal Association.


  • Wednesday, February 22
    • 5:00 p.m. – Round Three
      • All teams participate in mock trials across 20 courtrooms in the downtown San Diego Central Courthouse
  • Saturday, February 25
    • 8:30 a.m. – Round Four
      • All teams participate in mock trials across 20 courtrooms in the downtown San Diego Central Courthouse
    • 12:00 p.m. – Awards Ceremony
      • All students, teachers and coaches are invited to attend the awards ceremony to recognize the best individual performances and announcement of top 10 teams
    • 2:00 p.m. – Semi-Final Round
      • The top four teams compete to determine who will go on to the championship round
  • Tuesday, February 28
    • 5:00 p.m. – Championship Round
      • Top two teams; winner will go to the statewide Mock Trial competition

The awards ceremony and championship round will be live-streamed via links posted to sdmocktrial.org. School teachers and students wishing to learn more about the program may request more information by emailing [email protected].

For more information on the San Diego Superior Court, please visit sdcourt.ca.gov.