"These high school kids are, by and large, good at this," said Superior Court Judge Raymond A. Cota.
Cota, who presided over Tuesday's case argued by Brawley Union and Southwest high schools, had high praise for participating students.
"Some of these kids are as good as some attorneys practicing right now," Cota said.
While lacking knowledge of the law and procedure, the students are good with language and communication skills, Cota said.
Pretrial motion attorneys Monica Signorotti of Central and Michael Dawson of Calexico began their trial by arguing the admissibility of 911 tapes.
Using past cases to set precedents, Michael argued the 911 tapes were prejudicial against the defendant and irrelevant to the case.
Though Michael's motion was denied by Superior Court Judge Roger Benitez, Cota said verdicts and decisions by the judge aren't what matter at mock trial.
It's students' "ability to analyze and use logic" that scores points with the real attorneys who volunteer to score the trials, Cota said.
"In the end, facts may be stacked on one side, but the real test is how they handle the work before them," Acota said.
As mock trial participants get more experience, they polish their arguments and become more comfortable with their roles, Southwest coach Darrell Pechtl said.
"They're getting there. It's a learning process," Pechtl said.
Joel Aguiar, a sophomore at Brawley High, thought his first experience in mock trial on Tuesday went pretty well.
"I was nervous, like anybody would be," Joel said.
"I think we did pretty good, actually," Joel said as his team awaited the judge's verdict.
Having taken part in peer court, Joel joined the mock trial team because he wanted to get more involved. He said mock trial gives more insight into legal proceedings.
"Mock trial teaches you more of the real thing," Joel said.
"It's a good opportunity to explore the jobs out there," he added.
The county mock trial competition continues at 6 p.m. Thursday in the courthouse
Thursday's competition will pit Calipatria against Southwest, Imperial against Holtville and Brawley against Central. Calexico has a bye.
The trials are free and open to the public.
"I encourage anybody to come watch a trial," Pechtl said.
Staff Writer Kelly Rausch can be reached at 337-342.