Mock Trial Competition

Pinal County Superior Court Creates Opportunity for Students

by Donna McBride, Pinal County Juvenile Court Program Administrator II

Pinal County Juvenile Court Services and its Community Advisory Board held its 16th annual Mock Trial Competition March 8. More than 200 middle school and high school students spent the day competing for the titles of best witness, opening statement, closing statements, cross examination, direction examination, and witness as they showcase their prosecution and defense skills.

The Honorable Stephen McCarville, presiding judge for Pinal County Superior Court, has been a long-time supporter of this program. For a number of years, he served as a judge for the competition and routinely makes his rounds through the courtrooms to visit with students and encourage their journey to learn more about the system.

Part of the mission of the Arizona Supreme Court and the Pinal County Superior Court is to ensure every person has access to justice and to promote confidence in the court system. The mock trial competition fulfills both objectives.

During the competition, the students act as the attorneys and witnesses in a fictional case. It allows the students to experience a courtroom setting. Mock trials are set up and presented in the same way real cases are. The students learn the role of the judge, the prosecutor, the defense attorney and the witnesses. They also learn how the rules of evidence apply to court proceedings, and the fundamental rights under the United States and Arizona Constitutions. It is a wonderful way to educate the public on the court system.

McCarville shared, “Pinal County Superior Court extends its congratulations to the Community Advisory Board; Juvenile Court Services; and all the schools who recently completed the Mock Trial Competition in Florence. The mock trial program has been a great opportunity for students to gain a better understanding of the legal system in America and the importance of law in a democratic society. We believe it is important that every citizen understands how the judiciary, as the third co-equal branch of government, relates to the executive and legislative branches of government.”

Those competing in the Varsity Division were Casa Grande Junior High School, Cactus Middle School, Villago Middle School, Miami High School and Circle Cross Ranch School. Casa Grande Middle School took home the 1st place trophy with Villago Middle School capturing 2nd place.

Junior Varsity Division included Apache Trail High School, Vista Grande High School, Combs High School, Maricopa Wells Middle School, Picacho Elementary, San Tan Charter School, Sequoia Pathways Academy and Desert Wind Middle School. First time participant San Tan Charter School took home the 1st place trophy with Picacho School coming in a close 2nd.