Car searches scrutinized by Stanislaus County students for Mock Trial case

naustin@modbee.comJanuary 11, 2014 


    Mock Trial arguments, open to the public, will be at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday at the Stanislaus County Courthouse, 800 11th St. The final round will be at 5:15 p.m. Jan 22, with an awards ceremony to follow at the Petersen Event Center, 720 12th St.

    If you are an attorney interested in volunteering, contact Cheryl Goulart by phone at (209) 238-1705 or by e-mail at

Student teams from nine Stanislaus County high schools will have their day in court soon, arguing the merits of the Fourth Amendment in the search of a high school senior’s car.

The true-to-life topic is the basis of the fictitious 2013-14 California Mock Trial Competition case to be argued starting Tuesday at the Stanislaus County Courthouse. Superior Court judges conduct each trial, with the teams scored by attorneys practicing in Stanislaus County.

Thirty volunteer adjudicators are required for each trial during the three evenings of competition, and more volunteers are being sought to help with the event.

The Mock Trial program uses cases created by the Constitutional Rights Foundation that wrestle with contemporary social issues within the framework of judicial proceedings. It is meant to add to teens’ understanding of the legal system, persuasive argument and applications of constitutional law.

This year’s case includes lessons on drug use by students, different ways schools have tried to address the issue and Fourth Amendment limits on search and seizure.

Working in teams, students study the hypothetical case, conduct legal research, and practice arguing their case in front of mentor attorneys.

In Modesto, Beyer, Davis, Downey, Enochs, Gregori, Johansen and Modesto high schools signed up to participate, as did Pitman and Turlock high schools in Turlock. The winning team will advance to the state competition March 21-23 in San Jose.

This year’s Mock Trial is sponsored by the Stanislaus County Office of Education, Gianelli & Associates and the Education Foundation of Stanislaus County.

Bee education reporter Nan Austin can be reached at or (209) 578-2339. Follow her on Twitter @NanAustin.

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