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Riverside County hosts 42nd Annual High School Mock Trial competition

Twenty-two high schools throughout Riverside County are participating in this year’s 42nd Annual County Mock Trial competition.

"I learned a lot of interview skills and how to ask people questions in an appropriate manner that I carried over into my law practice as I was a practicing attorney," said Riverside County Superior Court Judge Melissa Hale.

Hale is helping judge the county’s high school mock trial competition, and she recalls a time when she too participated in the program. 

"From the moment I started, I knew that this was the field I wanted to go into," Hale said.

Hale now finds herself giving back to students who are also interested in the legal field.

"Well, I've been wanting to be an attorney for a year now, and I think this is the best place to try it," said Jared Arellano, participant of Indio High School's Mock Trial team.

"I always knew I was interested in law, but I never knew how much I actually really loved learning about law," said Indio High School Mock Trial participant, Bailey O'Malley.

The competition gives students the opportunity to argue a fictional case in front of real judges while being scored by practicing attorneys. 

"This high school courtroom has been a good experience for me," Arellano said. 

Through weeks of practice, students get the chance to hone in on their public speaking and different life skills, like carrying themselves in a professional manner. 

"I was awfully shy in school, but being in Mock Trial just helped me speak out," said Indio High School Mock Trial participant, Gordon Maxfield.

Years later professionals like Hale attribute some of their success to their high school mock trial team. 

"It helped me gain connections to the community so that when I did start practicing law here in Riverside, there were judges and attorneys who knew me from high school, and were able to help me get started in my practice as an attorney," Hale said.

All of the attorneys who score the rounds and judges like Hale are volunteers who make the time to give back to students. 

"And once they go through the program, they realize, 'Wow, this is something I could really do for the rest of my life,'" Hale said.

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Bianca Ventura

Bianca Ventura joined KESQ News Channel 3 as a reporter in February 2022.


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