Law Related Education and Prevention Programs

Program Mission

Law related education and prevention programs provide students from all districts and schools throughout Santa Cruz County with an opportunity to engage in law and justice education, community dynamics, leadership, critical thinking, public speaking skills and positive youth development. We strive to educate youth throughout the county about juvenile justice and law, while also reducing the incidence of juvenile delinquency.
Dr. Faris Sabbah
Dr. Faris Sabbah
Michael Paynter
Director, Student Support Services
(831) 466-5729
Denise Pitman-Rosas
Project Coordinator, Alternative Education
(831) 466-5619


To develop rights and responsibilities for youth as engaged citizens


To increase law related education projects through continual partnerships, application for grants and other resources, and establishment of creative funding avenues.

Superintendent’s Vision and Goals

The law related education programs are in alignment with the Superintendent’s Vision and Goals. They promote “innovative collaboration with districts, non-governmental organizations and public agencies to create safe and healthy school environments” (Goal 3.5). Mock Trial in particular is a strong platform for encouraging “arts activities, performances and recognition of Santa Cruz County’s youth” (Goal 3.8). Together, the law related education programs provide increased education opportunities for students of diverse backgrounds, while simultaneously increasing the safety, responsibility, and citizenship of our students, communities, and schools.

Mock Trial

The Santa Cruz County Office of Education, Student Support Services Department, Law Related Education and Prevention Programs, provides students throughout the county with opportunities to engage in law and justice education. Mock Trial is coordinated by Law Related Education Programs in collaboration with the Santa Cruz County Bar Association, Superior Court of California Santa Cruz, and the Santa Cruz Trial Lawyers Association. This past February marked the 30th Annual Santa Cruz County Mock Trial.

The Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF) manages the California Mock Trial Competition for all 36 participating counties. CRF introduced the program to other counties throughout the state in 1980 after establishing a large following in Los Angeles County. Each year, CRF 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.

Nearly 8,000 students throughout the state of California participate in Mock Trial. 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.

Locally, over 20 attorneys volunteer as competition scorers and are given specific scoring criteria. The students are scored on team sportsmanship, presentation skills, analytic ability, and team cooperation. Approximately 10 local judges and commissioners volunteer to preside over the competition; making decisions regarding the running of the trial, rulings on pretrial arguments, competition violations, and announcing the verdict.

Real DUI Court in Schools

Safety Precautions for Teen Drivers.

It is reported that last year four million 16-20 year olds drove while under the influence of either alcohol or illicit drugs in the U.S. This makes motor vehicle crashes the leading cause of death among young people in that age group. Altering the attitudes of teen drivers is fundamental to changing their behavior. To achieve this objective, a robust, multifaceted approach to solving the problem of underage drinking and driving is required.

California judicial officers currently participating in the Real DUI Court in Schools program believe this to be a successful model for DUI prevention.

The premise of the Real DUI Court in Schools program is to conduct live driving under the influence (DUI) sentencing hearings in high schools to provide students with the opportunity to see up close the consequences of a DUI offense to individual drivers, crash victims, and local communities.

The Santa Cruz County Office of Education in partnership with Santa Cruz County Superior Courts, Public Defenders Office, and District Attorneys Office bring Real DUI Court in Schools assemblies to interested Santa Cruz County High Schools. The Real DUI Court in Schools assembly provides high school students with: an opportunity to witness the consequences of a real adult DUI sentencing hearing, listen to testimonial speakers, have a question/ answer period about the hearing process with speakers and judicial staff, and learn about underage drinking.

The Santa Cruz County Office of Education, Law-related and Prevention Education programs partners with the Santa Cruz Superior Court, Public Defender’s Office, and District Attorney’s Office to bring Real DUI Court in Schools assemblies to local high schools. In 2007, the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) funded the Santa Cruz County Office of Education, and other select agencies, to pilot the Real DUI Court in Schools program. Although direct funding ended in June 2009, the collaborative finds the program highly effective and of great importance and therefore continues to offer assemblies to high schools throughout the county.

Real DUI Court in Schools brings real cases before students to emphasize the short- and long- term consequences and realities of driving under the influence. The assembly provides high school students with an opportunity to: witness the consequences of an adult DUI sentencing hearing, hear from a testimonial speaker, dialogue with judicial staff, defendants, and speakers, and view the WASTED: The Truth About Underage Drinking in Santa Cruz County video which discusses the public health issues of binge drinking in our community. Furthermore, the County Office of Education partners with County Drug and Alcohol, Friday Night Live Program, to provide a resource table and lunch time prevention activities for students after the presentation. One activity asks student to take a pledge to not drink and drive.