287 Pennsylvania High School Teams Participate in 2019 PBA Statewide Mock Trial Competition

HARRISBURG (Jan. 30, 2019) — This month, 287 teams from 242 high schools across Pennsylvania will be competing in district and regional levels of the Statewide Mock Trial Competition sponsored by the Pennsylvania Bar Association Young Lawyers Division.

Pennsylvania’s mock trial program, now in its 36th year, is one of the largest in the nation.

“For participating students across Pennsylvania, this mock trial competition is more than an academic exercise,” said Alaina C. Koltash of Harrisburg, chair of the association’s Young Lawyers Division. “These students will gain a working knowledge of our justice system, plus successful dispute resolution techniques, and valuable presentation, critical-thinking and teamwork skills that will serve them well throughout their lifetimes.”

During the competition, eight-member student teams are given the opportunity to argue both sides of the case in an actual courtroom 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 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, 14 high school mock trial teams will advance to the Pennsylvania Bar Association Statewide Mock Trial Championships, March 29 and 30, in Harrisburg.

The winning team of the state championship will represent Pennsylvania in the national mock trial finals to be held May 16 – 18 in Athens, Ga.

The Pennsylvania Bar Foundation, the charitable affiliate of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, is providing funding support for the statewide competition.

Serving as co-chairs of the Mock Trial Executive Committee are PBA Young Lawyers Division Immediate Past Chair Jonathan D. Koltash of Harrisburg and Young Lawyers Division Chair-elect Jennifer Menichini of Pittston.

This year’s hypothetical case is a criminal jury trial in which the defendant, a local pain management doctor, is accused of prescribing opiate painkillers outside the realm of normal medical practice, resulting in the overdose death of his patient.

The case was written by Jonathan A. Grode of Philadelphia, Paul W. Kaufman of Philadelphia, Koltash and Talia Charme-Zane, an alumna of the Pennsylvania mock trial program and former captain of the Central High School team in Philadelphia.

For more information about the 2019 Pennsylvania Bar Association Statewide Mock Trial Championships and to read this year’s case, visit https://www.pabar.org/site/For-the-Public/Mock-Trial-Competition. Interested volunteers should contact Maria Engles of the Pennsylvania Bar Association at 800-932-0311, extension 2223.

Founded in 1895, the Pennsylvania Bar Association strives to promote justice, professional excellence and respect for the law; improve public understanding of the legal system; facilitate access of legal services; and serve the lawyer members of the state’s largest organized bar association.

Teams participating in the 2019 Statewide Mock Trial Competition are from the following schools:

REGION 10 — Northeast

District 1: (Bradford, Lackawanna, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Wayne and Wyoming counties)

•Abington Heights High School

•Carbondale Area Jr./Sr. High School

•Dunmore High School

•Holy Cross High School

•Honesdale High School

•Mid Valley High School

•North Pocono High School

•Scranton High School

•Scranton Preparatory School

•Valley View High School

•West Scranton High School

• Western Wayne High School