18th Annual San Diego County High School Mock Trial Competition Brings Nearly 750 Students to Court

4th Amendment, Geofence Warrant Issues Argued in Court

Feb 20, 2024
Mock trial competition view from behind witness stand

The 18th 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 concerns first-degree murder charges, and the pretrial issue involves Fourth Amendment protection and how that fits in with a search warrant that allows law enforcement to access data regarding all active mobile devices within a set geofenced area. 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 747 San Diego County high school students are participating in the event, making it the largest competition to date. Students from 37 San Diego County high schools have fielded 38 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 24, with the awards ceremony and semi-final round to follow in the afternoon. The championship round will be held on Tuesday, February 27. 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 an event that the court looks forward to hosting each year and that I personally love seeing happen here. These high school students work hard, take it seriously, and spend countless hours over several months preparing to compete,” said San Diego Superior Court Presiding Judge Maureen F. Hallahan. “The students experience a firsthand view of the justice system and proper resolution of disputes as they work with their team to evaluate the facts, the law, and the best arguments for their case. I am immensely proud of each student who participates, and it is so encouraging to come away from this competition with a refreshed belief that our future, and the future of our justice system, is in good hands.”

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 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 21
    • 5:00 p.m. – Round Three
      • All teams participate in mock trials across 19 courtrooms in the downtown San Diego Central Courthouse
  • Saturday, February 24
    • 8:30 a.m. – Round Four
      • All teams participate in mock trials across 19 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 27
    • 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