Eight teams from seven public and private high schools throughout Santa Barbara County competed in the 35th annual Mock Trial competition on Saturday at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse. Participating schools this year were Cabrillo, Carpinteria, Dos Pueblos, Laguna Blanca, San Marcos, Santa Barbara, and Santa Ynez high schools.

The Mock Trial competition is designed to provide an educational experience for high school students regarding key concepts of the law, the Constitution, and our legal system. In the process, students develop analytical abilities and communication skills.

On Saturday, after two rounds of competition, four high school teams — Dos Pueblos, San Marcos, Santa Barbara, and Santa Ynez — progressed to the semifinals which will be held this Saturday, March 3, at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse. The semifinal round of the competition begins at 9 a.m. followed by the finals at 1 p.m. The awards ceremony will be held between 4 and 4.30 p.m. at the Courthouse.

The winner of the local competition will represent Santa Barbara County at the State Mock Trial competition in Orange County, March 16-18

The competition is sponsored by the Santa Barbara County Education Office, the Santa Barbara County Superior Court, and the Constitutional Rights Foundation.

“The benefits that students derive from Mock Trial extend well beyond the competition,” said County Superintendent of Schools Susan Salcido. “Students certainly expand their writing, public speaking, and analytical thinking skills while learning about our justice system. They also come to understand the significance of working together as a team, the value of thorough preparation, and the importance of supporting their arguments with facts.”

The law firm, Rogers, Sheffield, and Campbell, LLP, donated medals that were awarded to 28 individual students for exceptional performances. The Santa Barbara County Bar Association donates a check for the winning team to travel to the state competition.

Judges of the Santa Barbara County Superior Court who volunteer to serve as presiding judges for the competition include Judge Thomas P. Anderle, Judge Clifford Anderson, Judge Michael Carrozzo, Retired Judge George C. Eskin, Judge Donna Geck, Judge Brian Hill, Judge Kay Kuns, Judge Patricia Kelly, Judge Raimundo Montes de Oca, and Judge James Voysey. Some of the 60 local attorneys who volunteered their time to serve as scorers include Stephen Amerikaner, Jeff Chambliss, Chris Cobey, Commissioner Von Deroian, and John Thyne III.