The Pennsylvania Bar Association announced that its annual Statewide High School Mock Trial Competition will be held virtually this year, with 233 teams from 199 high schools from across Pennsylvania set to compete this month in district and regional levels.
Participating schools from Bucks County include: Bensalem High School; Central Bucks High School East; Central Bucks High School South (two teams); Central Bucks High School West; Council Rock High School South (two teams); Holicong Middle School; Holy Ghost Preparatory School; Lenape Middle School; Villa Joseph Marie High School (two teams); Pennridge High School; Plumstead Christian School; and UNAMI Middle School.
Sponsored by the PBA Young Lawyers Division, Pennsylvania’s mock trial program is now in its 38th year and is one of the largest in the nation.
“Students from across the commonwealth have enjoyed and benefited from this mock trial competition since 1983, and we wanted to continue on with it to help give them a sense of normalcy,” said PBA Young Lawyers Division Chair Colin O’Boyle. “However, the health and safety of our competitors and the many volunteers is a top priority and so adjustments had to be made.
“Our outstanding mock trial team, led by co-chairs Jonathan Koltash and Jennifer Menichini, made the tough decision in advance of the school year to host the event remotely. I agree with them that the benefits of holding a virtual competition far outweigh the challenges, including writing new rules and procedures. We believe that participating Pennsylvania students will continue to lead the way nationwide and that, while different, this year’s competition will be every bit as powerful, meaningful and fun as it has been in years past.”
During the competition, eight-member student teams are given the opportunity to argue both sides of the case before a judge. The students, who play the roles of lawyers, witnesses, plaintiffs and defendants, are assisted by teacher coaches and lawyer advisors in preparing for competition. Lawyers and community leaders serve as jurors and sometimes judges for the mock trials. The juries determine the winners in each trial based on the teams’ abilities to prepare their cases, present arguments and follow court rules.
The district and regional levels of the competition will continue throughout February and March. At the conclusion of the local competitions, 16 high school mock trial teams will advance to the PBA Statewide Mock Trial Championships, March 26 and 27.
The winning team of the state championship will represent Pennsylvania in the national mock trial finals, to be held virtually May 13-15.
This year’s hypothetical case, Estate of George Romero v. Ashley Williams, is a criminal trial to determine whether the defendant is guilty of murdering George Romero with a chemical the defendant prepared.
The case was written by Jonathan A. Grode and Paul W. Kaufman, both of Philadelphia. Grode and Kaufman have been involved in the drafting of these materials for the past seven years.
Click here for more information on the 2021 PBA Statewide Mock Trial Championships and to read this year’s case. Interested volunteers should contact the PBA’s Maria Engles at 800-932-0311, Ext. 2223.