The Episcopal Academy and Plumstead Christian School Advances to State Mock Trial Championship

HARRISBURG (March 19, 2013) - The Episcopal Academy and Plumstead Christian School are two of the 12 Pennsylvania high schools advancing to the 30th Annual Pennsylvania Bar Association Statewide High School Mock Trial Competition, Friday, March 22, and Saturday, March 23, at the Dauphin County Courthouse in Harrisburg. The competition is sponsored by the Pennsylvania Bar Association Young Lawyers Division.

The winning team of the state championship will represent Pennsylvania in the National High School Mock Trial Championship, May 9 - 11 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The Episcopal Academy Mock Trial Team is composed of Timothy Freese, Rohan Gulati, Catie Hopkins, Matthew London, Kathleen O'Reilly, Shreya Reddy, Daniel Schlaff and Michael Smerconish. The teacher coaches are Kris Aldridge and Jennifer Maier. The attorney advisor is Kris Aldridge.

The Plumstead Christian School Mock Trial Team is composed of Tyler Amann, Natalie Assaad, Steven Assaad, Isobel Harvey, Lauren Hawthorne, Matt Johnson and Kylie Kantner. The teacher coach is Susan Hawthorne. The attorney advisor is Greg Czura.

The Episcopal Academy and Plumstead Christian School are moving on to the state level as winners of the Region Seven area of competition that includes schools in Bucks, Chester and Delaware counties.

This year, 311 teams from 257 high schools competed in district and regional levels of Pennsylvania's mock trial competition in hopes of gaining one of the 12 spots at the statewide competition. Pennsylvania's competition is one of the largest in the nation.

"To achieve this level of success in the competition, students must have invested many hours in trial preparation and then have demonstrated outstanding presentation and critical-thinking skills in front of real-life judges, lawyers and business professionals," said Jacob A. Gurwitz of Reading, chair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association Young Lawyers Division. "Congratulations to these bright and hard-working students, and a big thank-you to their teacher coaches and attorney advisors who prepared them for this academic challenge."

All 12 teams will compete in two quarterfinal rounds from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on March 22. The four winning teams of the quarterfinal rounds will advance to the semifinal round at 8:30 a.m. on March 23. The state championship round will take place at 11 a.m. on March 23 with Judge Dudley N. Anderson, Lycoming County Court of Common Pleas, serving as the presiding judge.

For this year's hypothetical case, a jury must determine if the developer of an urban renewal project is responsible for a crane collapse that killed two people. The case was written by Jonathan A. Grode of Philadelphia and Paul W. Kaufman of Philadelphia. Jane E. Meyer of Harrisburg edited the final version of the case in collaboration with Grode and Kaufman.

The chair of the Mock Trial Executive Committee is Traci L. Naugle of Altoona.

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 and lawyer coaches in preparing for competition. Volunteer lawyers and community leaders serve as jurors in the 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 Pennsylvania Cable Network will record the final round of the competition for airing statewide on Friday, March 29 at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 30 at 9:30 p.m., and Monday, April 1 at 3:30 p.m. The Pennsylvania Bar Foundation, the charitable affiliate of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, is providing funding support for the broadcast. Also, DVDs of the final round will be available for purchase from the network's website.

For more information about the Pennsylvania Bar Association Statewide High School Mock Trial Competition, visit the PBA Web site at http://www.pabar.org.

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 to legal services; and serve the 28,000 lawyers who are members of the association.