Dos Pueblos High School Takes First in SB County Mock Trial Competition

Dos Pueblo High 2024 Mock Trial Champs (Courtesy)

Scales of justice tipped in favor of Dos Pueblos High School in 2024 Santa Barbara County Mock Trial Competition

In defeating San Marcos High School, Dos Pueblos High heads to state finals

After a closely contested final round on Saturday afternoon, March 2, 2024, Dos Pueblos High School emerged victorious in the 41st annual Santa Barbara County Mock Trial competition, defeating San Marcos High School. Third and fourth places were awarded to Carpinteria High School and Laguna Blanca High School, respectively. Dos Pueblos will go on to represent Santa Barbara County at the Mock Trial State Finals in Los Angeles on March 22-24, 2024.

The Santa Barbara County Education Office (SBCEO) sponsors the two-weekend event with assistance from the Santa Barbara County Superior Court and Teach Democracy (formerly the Constitutional Rights Foundation).

During the Mock Trial competition, students hone analytical and communication skills as they portray each of the principal characters of a courtroom trial, including the defendant, legal counsel, witnesses, court clerks, and bailiffs.

This year, seven Santa Barbara County high schools participated: Carpinteria High School, Dos Pueblos High School, Laguna Blanca High School, Lompoc & Cabrillo high schools, San Marcos High School, and Santa Barbara High School.

“The entire DP community is so proud!” said Dos Pueblos High Principal Bill Woodard, a former Mock Trial coach himself who pointed out that the DP team has now taken first place in five of the last seven county competitions. “And hats off to San Marcos, too, for being part of the most intense rivalry in all of Santa Barbara County! The mutual respect and competitiveness of these two programs should make us all proud.”

This year, dozens of local attorneys – including representatives from the District Attorney and Public Defender offices – volunteered their time to serve as scorers of student prosecution and defense teams in the fictional homicide case of People v. Clark. Earlier in the school year, students and their coaches received the rules and details of the fictional case, including witness statements, evidence, applicable case law, and a summary of allowable objections. Teams spend months developing their arguments and refining courtroom procedures and strategy to prepare for the competition.

Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools Susan Salcido was in attendance during the final round on Saturday where a standing-room-only crowd packed the courtroom. “A resounding congratulations to the exceptional Mock Trial team at Dos Pueblos High for this outstanding achievement. This event offers a singular opportunity to demonstrate agility, precision, and grit in a courtroom like no other experience can offer.”

Santa Barbara Unified School District Superintendent Hilda Maldonado congratulated all students, staff, volunteers, and families involved. “What our mock trial students accomplished fills our entire District with pride. The skills they acquire will serve them for life. We look forward to witnessing their future successes as lawyers, engineers, scientists, writers, poets, or in any other field they aspire to.”

The winning team, Dos Pueblos High School’s Team A, includes Luna Avolio, Jake Betancourt, Tobin Bohley, Victoria Chen, Charlotte Choi, Alexis Demboski, Amirsam Jabbari, Sofia Elena Lara, Anastasia Li, Ariel Li, Mitchel Maskery, Sophia Merritt, William Parisse, Milena Rodriguez, Amel Sakr, Sienna Valentine, Jason Wang, Joy Xie, and Jonathan Yang. They are supported by teachers Hannah Krieshok, Rollie Woodward and by Attorney/Coaches Lisa Rothstein, Lina Somait, and Christine Voss.

Judge Brian Hill, who presided over one of the final rounds and announced the winners on Saturday afternoon, stated: “The Santa Barbara County Education Office has developed one of the finest High School Mock Trials programs in the state. Led by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Susan Salcido and Associate Superintendent Ellen Barger, this program provides a challenging intellectual exercise for students in law and government. As in past years, there continues to be tremendous support from parents, teachers, the local bar, and the Superior Court judges and administrators. It is the kind of educational experience that develops leadership, teamwork, and an appreciation of our justice system.  I am proud to be a part of this important effort to enhance and encourage the understanding of civics and democratic institutions.”

SBCEO’s Ellen Barger said this year’s competition was a success on many levels: “As students delve into this case to craft their statements and arguments in light of the evidence and case law, they are cultivating critical thinking abilities, intellectual resilience, and teamwork – all skills that will serve them throughout their lives.”

Throughout the two weekend Mock Trial competition, judges and presiders included Julius Abanise, Steve Amerikaner, Judge Thomas Anderle, John Chambliss, Marguerite Charles, Danielle DeSmeth, Judge Steve Dunkle, Judge George Eskin, retd., Judge Steve Foley, Judge Donna Geck, Judge Brian Hill, retd., Jennifer Karapetian, Diana Lytel, William Makler, John Thyne, and Stephen Wagner.

Bailiff swears in witness during 2024 Mock Trial Competition (Courtesy)

The law firm of Rogers, Sheffield, and Campbell, LLP donated medals that were awarded to 29 individual students for their outstanding performance during the February 24, 2024, preliminary trials.


Written by SBCEO

Press releases written by the Santa Barbara County Office of Education. Learn more at

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