California Mock Trial Competition Courtroom Journalist

journalistThe Courtroom Journalist Contest allows students to experience a courtroom setting from the perspective of a news reporter and learn about the American legal system from actual judges and attorneys. Through the voice of a newspaper reporter reporting on a criminal case, students observe and report on their schools mock trials. Student's have 24 hours to submit an article depicting the courtroom drama. For more information about the Courtroom Journalist Contest please contact your county coordinator.

Anatomy of a News Story

Contest Rules

Following rules apply to journalists competing in general. Check with your County Coordinator for any changes made in your local county competition.

Scoring GuidelinesSample Journalist Article  |  Reporters' Handbook


  1. All contestants must be affiliated with a participating Mock Trial team and enrolled at the team’s school.

  1. All participants must complete the entry fee form (fees may vary by county).

  1. All participants must register online authorizing the publication or reprinting of their Journalism Contest submissions for educational purposes.  No financial compensation will be awarded.

  1. Contestants may only watch and report on their own team’s trials.

  1. All contestants are invited to watch their team’s first trial as a practice. But, all contestants must write their articles based on their team’s designated official round's trial.

  1. Typed submissions must be a 12 point Times New Roman font, with one-inch margins, double-spaced, and article must not exceed 850 words.

  1. Submitted articles should be in the voice of a reporter covering a criminal trial. Use of dictionaries and thesauruses will be permitted.

Submission instructions:

  1. Collect your “Press Badge”/nametag at the school check-in table.

  1. During the trials, journalists must sit in the jury box in a row below the scorers.  If a scorer/presider asks you not to sit in the jury box, you may sit in the front row of spectator seating, away from witnesses.

  1. Introduce yourself to the scorers (they will be sitting in the jury box) and the presider (she/he will be sitting on the bench).

  1. Once you are seated, you may not have any contact with anyone from your school (parents, teachers, or fellow students).  You must draft your article completely independently. 

  1. On the day of designated official round, all contestants will have 24 hours to complete their articles and submit to the designted email.

  1. Contestants may refer to the California Mock Trial case materials, the Journalism Contest rules and Judging criteria during the contest.

  1. Awards for the Journalism Contest are independent of the school's results from the Mock Trial Competition; an individual may win a Journalism award regardless of their Mock Trial team’s final ranking.

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