By Joseph O’Neill
The Ventura County Bar Association Executive Board seeks local attorneys to help Ventura County high schools as Mock Trial coaches for the 2012 competition. Our request promises a most rewarding experience while assisting and introducing young adults to our legal profession.
Mock Trial is a statewide competition involving high school students from 58 counties in California. Each September, a fact pattern about a serious, but fictional, felony criminal case is distributed to all California high schools. Students have four months to learn rules of evidence, constitutional principles, arguments, courtroom procedures, investigative techniques, public speaking and to present logical and legal arguments in an actual courtroom.
The program is designed to clarify the judicial process. Students portray each of the principal characters in a felony criminal case: prosecutors, defense attorneys, pretrial attorneys, police officers, experts, witnesses, clerks and bailiffs. By this experience, students learn to become confident professionals in their future careers. As every Mock Trial coach can attest, the time and attention devoted to ordinary high school students will cause them to blossom in extraordinary ways. There is a necessary commitment of time and energy to be a coach, but the rewards are numerous. It also demonstrates to young adults our respect for the legal profession and the American system of justice.
Thanks to the championship efforts of La Reina High School and their volunteer coach Ron Bamieh, the Ventura County Mock Trial competition enjoys an impressive reputation as a quality event. In recent years, more local high schools have become involved in Mock Trial, and others have asked to form teams in 2011-12. Because of this growing desire to participate in Mock Trial, there is a more pressing need for volunteer attorneys now than in past years.
Thank you for your assistance, and if you are interested in helping our effort to locate volunteer coaches, please feel free to contact Joseph O’Neill (805) 988-6700.
Joseph O’Neill is a long time Mock Trial coach and member of the VCBA Board of Directors.