Santa Cruz High Wins 2024 Mock Trial

Santa Cruz High School won the 2024 Santa Cruz County Mock Trial following a nail-biting finals event at the Santa Cruz Courthouse on Thursday night that resulted in a rare tied score.

In adherence to Mock Trials rules, presiding Santa Cruz Superior Court Judge Syda Cogliati broke the tie between Santa Cruz High and co-finalist Pacific Collegiate School. 

Santa Cruz High is now eligible to compete in the 2024 California Mock Trial Finals. As runner up in the countywide event, Pacific Collegiate School may be eligible to participate in the wild card lottery to appear in the statewide finals. Wild card eligibility will be determined by nonprofit Teach Democracy, which manages the statewide event, after March 1.

In its first year participating in Mock Trial, Pajaro Valley High School earned the inaugural Paul Marigonda Award presented by the Santa Cruz Trial Lawyers Association. Honoring the late Santa Cruz County Superior Judge Paul Marigonda, the award recognizes a team for demonstrating exceptional courage, commitment and integrity.

This year, 13 judges and 47 attorneys volunteered their time in support of the 2024 Santa Cruz County Mock Trial. A total of 173 students from eight schools and four districts participated.

Facilitated by the Santa Cruz County Office of Education (Santa Cruz COE), Mock Trial provides students throughout the county with opportunities to engage in law and justice education. Students participating in this academic competition take on roles of attorneys, witnesses, clerks, bailiffs, and more to try a fictional court case in front of real judges and scoring attorneys. This year’s fictional case, People v. Clark, was a trial involving the in-house counsel of a billion-dollar medical technology company charged with murdering the company’s chief executive.

Mock Trial is coordinated in partnership with the Santa Cruz County Bar Association, the Superior Court of California Santa Cruz, and the Santa Cruz Trial Lawyers Association, with support from the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office.

“Mock Trial not only provides valuable insight into our legal system, it serves as a platform for students to showcase their talent and build skills and confidence they will carry forward for the rest of their lives,” said Santa Cruz County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Faris Sabbah. “Thank you to our partners and volunteer for making this special event possible – and congratulations to Santa Cruz High and to each of this year’s outstanding teams!”

Teach Democracy, formerly known as the Constitutional Rights Foundation, has managed the California Mock Trial Competition for all participating counties since 1980. Each year, Teach Democracy creates and produces a new set of Mock Trial materials. The materials include a hypothetical criminal case, summaries of case law, witness statements, official exhibits, simplified rules of evidence, lesson plans on the central issues in the case, and competition rules and guidelines.

Thousands of students across California participate in Mock Trial each year. Through performance-based education these students further their knowledge of our judicial system, history, content and conduct of our legal system, analytical abilities, communication skills, and team cooperation. Mock Trial teams receive guidance in courtroom procedures and trial preparation from volunteer attorney coaches.



  • Mock Trial Winner: Santa Cruz High School
  • First Runner Up: Pacific Collegiate School
  • Paul Marigonda Award: Pajaro Valley High School
  • Team Spirit: Soquel High School
  • Team Sportsmanship: Scotts Valley High School


  • Bailiff: Raffi Pehlivanian, Scotts Valley High School
  • Clerk: Mia Richards, Santa Cruz High School
  • Courtroom Artist: Hannah Le, Aptos High School
  • Defense Pretrial Attorney: Lydia Richards, Scotts Valley High School
  • Defense Trial Attorney: Samuel Attard, Santa Cruz High School
  • Defense Witness – Arian Sunshine: Kate Brandon, Harbor High School
  • Defense Witness – Nic Yang: Andi Antonio, Harbor High School
  • Defense Witness – Tobie Clark: Hayden Kriege, Santa Cruz High School
  • Journalist: Harper Gable, Aptos High
  • Prosecution Pretrial Attorney: Amber Caldwell, Pacific Collegiate School
  • Prosecution Trial Attorney: Jocelyn Gomez, Pajaro Valley High School
  • Prosecution Witness – Emari Sunshine: Gus Dent, Soquel High School
  • Prosecution Witness – Gerri Moayed: Ricardo Vega, Pajaro Valley High School
  • Prosecution Witness – K.C. Vasquez: Ronja McArthur, Pacific Collegiate School