Mock trial powerhouse Riverside Poly High prepares to defend its crown
By Craig Shultz
There is perhaps no high school program in Riverside County more dominant than Poly’s mock trial team.
The county has staged 34 competitions. The Riverside school has won 17, including the past two contests and six of the previous seven.
As another year of mock trial competition is set to start Thursday, Feb. 8, Poly team members and coaches say continuity is a reason for their success.
“A lot of it is the coaching,” program advisor Matt Schiller said. “We have the most experienced coaching staff in the county. A lot of it is the kids — they are willing to put in the time.”
Schiller, a chemistry teacher, has been with the program for 14 years, teaming with attorneys Carlos Monagas and Josh Hanks — who both work for the Riverside County District Attorney’s office and have spent more than two decades coaching — and recent college graduate Emma Cunningham. All four are Poly High graduates.
Noted attorneys Virginia Blumenthal and Steven Harmon have been coaches in the past.
This year, Poly will seek its 18th title and will be one of 26 teams competing in courtrooms in Riverside, Murrieta and Indio.
In mock trial, teams argue fictional cases in front of actual judges that are scored by real attorneys. Teams have up to 25 students, who fill courtroom roles such as defense and prosecution attorneys, witnesses and clerks.
Each team competes twice each as prosecution and defense, with the higher-scoring teams moving on. The top two will square off for the championship Saturday, March 3. The winner of that contest will advance to the state championship, which Poly has won three times.
There also are awards, scholarships and internships for top performers. The case this year is People v. Davidson, a murder trial.
Alyssa Tidewell, 17, uses a […]