Adderall, the death of a young high school student, and allegations of second degree murder. No, this is not an episode of Law & Order. This is the 2014 Mock Trial Competition. As one of BASF’s diversity pipeline programs, the San Francisco County Mock Trial program targets underserved and underrepresented high school students at San Francisco’s public high schools, providing them an opportunity to develop critical life skills.
The program currently includes nine teams from eight different public high schools in San Francisco, plus one after-school program. Run entirely on donations and enabled by the passion and commitment of over 80 volunteer attorney coaches, this program epitomizes what makes me most proud and hopeful about our profession. Coaches range from Assistant U.S. Attorneys to law firm partners from some of the most prestigious firms in the Bay Area.
This season of the Mock Trial program has been a season of change – both from the program support side and the program administration side. In the fall, we gained a wonderfully passionate new BASF Diversity Pipeline Program Director, Jareem Gunter. In addition, after benefiting from having Kimberly Taylor serving as Chair of the Mock Trial Committee for the last several years, I stepped in as the new committee chair.
In an effort to grow the program and the competition, we also made other changes to the program. First, we increased the number of preliminary rounds from three to four rounds of competition to provide the students with more opportunity for competition prior to the county championship round. In order to do this, BASF and the Mock Trial Committee had to secure an additional 25 volunteer scorers for one more night of competition, all of which took place at the San Francisco Superior Court. Lastly and most importantly, we added a ninth team from Burton High School, which came out of the gate with one of the strongest first season showings this program has ever seen.
The All-Star Championship Round took place on February 18 at the federal court and was presided over by the Honorable William H. Orrick. After a thrilling pre-trial motion, and an energized trial, the verdict was in. Four preliminary rounds, 85 volunteer attorney scorers, 20 volunteer presiding judges, and an All-Star championship round later, there’s only one last thing to say.
Congratulations to Lowell High School, our 2014 San Francisco Mock Trial Competition Champions! And yes, we’re already preparing for next season.
To see a complete list of Mock Trial volunteers, visit www.sfbar.org/mock-trial.