Colorado High School Mock Trial Program
THE COLORADO BAR ASSOCIATION
HIGH SCHOOL MOCK TRIAL PROGRAM
Since 1985, the Colorado Bar Association (CBA) has proudly sponsored the CBA High School Mock Trial Program. This program is funded by the CBA Litigation Section and the Colorado Bar Foundation. This educational program is one of more than forty-five educational programs in Colorado and is one of the leading and most respected programs in the country.
More than 100 high school teams participates in Colorado’s mock trial program. Approximately 1,500 students perform as attorneys and/or witnesses in a court case. Hundreds of attorneys, judges, teachers, and other community leaders volunteer their time to instruct students about the judicial system and the trial process through this educational program.
Q: What are the benefits of Mock Trial?
A: The CBA High School Mock Trial Program is a positive academic program that gives students an opportunity to expand their speaking, writing, reading, and analytical skills while learning about the judicial system. The students play the role of attorneys and witnesses in a fictitious case. To play these roles, students are introduced to a number of life skills that will be helpful to them in their future, such as team work and collaboration; the importance and value of setting goals; the value of strategic planning and implementation; productive argumentative and persuasive skills; critical thinking skills; and the ability to face challenging obstacles with enthusiasm, professionalism and confidence.
Q: Who participates in mock trial?
A: Any Colorado high school, home school, or community center program is welcome to participate. Students must be enrolled in grades 9–12 at the time of participation in the regional tournament. Each team must have at least one teacher/organizational sponsor and, ideally, one attorney coach. Teams having difficulty in finding an attorney coach may contact their local bar association and/or the CBA to assist in recruiting an attorney.
Q: How is Mock Trial organized?
A: Teams participate in their regional tournament—the first level of competition, which takes place in February. Regional tournaments, are coordinated by local bar associations and are held in courtrooms where teams argue both sides of a case during trial rounds. Top finishers of regional tournaments advance to compete in the State Championship Tournament held in March.
After being named the Colorado State Mock Trial Champion, the mock trial team goes on to participate in the National High School Mock Trial Championship (NHSMTC) tournament held in May. For more information about the NHSMTC, go to www.nationalmocktrial.org.
Q: What does a Mock Trial look like?
A: Mock trial teams are composed of 6–12 students who perform a case for the Prosecution/Plaintiff and/or the Defense. In most cases, an actual Colorado judge or magistrate presides over the trial round while attorneys, paralegals and community members adjudicate the student performances. In any mock trial round, three students serve as attorneys to argue their side of the case, and three students serve as witnesses for direct and cross-examinations.
Q: How are Mock Trial performances scored?
A: Student performances are scored on criteria that outlines several elements of performance as a witness or as a prosecution or defense attorney. Points are awarded for each student’s performance. No verdicts are given in mock trial. Mock trial performances are scored on knowledge and use of the Rules of Evidence, trial procedures, witness character portrayals, and the conviction of each side’s argument.
Q: What type of trial case problem do the teams argue?
A: The case problems are either a criminal or a civil case.
Q: How does one get register for the Colorado Mock Trial Program and what does it cost?
A: To register, complete a registration form and submit it to the CBA with the registration fee for each team. Registration qualifies a team for both local and state tournament. Mock trial registration forms are available on August 15 and are accepted until December 15; early bird registration fees are available. The cost is $200 per team. After December 1 the cost is $250 per team. If a team cannot pay the registration fee, it is asked to contact the CBA.
Q: Why should our teachers and community attorneys get involved in the Mock Trial Program?
A: Coaching a mock trial team is an outstanding way for teachers and attorneys to be involved in their own communities, as well as their local schools. This educational program offers the opportunity for dedicated professionals to teach within a setting in which they are comfortable and to provide mentoring to students seeking skills in a professional area of interest.