Altoona Area High School and Central High School Advance to Pennsylvania Bar Association Statewide Mock Trial Championship

HARRISBURG (March 24, 2014) - Altoona Area High School and Central High School are two of the 12 Pennsylvania high schools advancing to the 31st Annual Pennsylvania Bar Association Statewide High School Mock Trial Competition, Friday, March 28, and Saturday, March 29, 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 mock trial finals to be held May 8 - 10 in Madison, Wisconsin.

The Altoona Area High School Mock Trial Team is composed of Jacob Foose, Blanca Gates, Juan Gil, Chelsea Keller, Rachel McIntosh, Michael Scott, Haley Smith and Haley Walker. The teacher coaches are James Lowe and Jennifer Lowe. The attorney advisor is David Andrews.

The Central High School Mock Trial Team is composed of Aaron Clouse, Courtney Frye, Alex Garver, Chris Houp, Conner Johnson, Jacob Muthler, Hailey Ritchey and Eric Trexler. The teacher coach is Brad A. Heuston. The attorney advisory is Julie Mills.

Altoona Area High School and Central High School are moving on to the state level as winners of the Region Three area of competition that includes schools in Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Fayette, Fulton, Greene, Huntingdon, Jefferson, Indiana, Mifflin, Somerset, Washington and Westmoreland counties.

Central High School won the 2009 Statewide High School Mock Trial Competition.

This year, 327 teams from 274 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.

"Rising to the highest levels in this academic challenge is the result of many hours of dedication from students whose presentation and critical-thinking skills have impressed the lawyers, judges and business professionals serving as mock trial jurors and evaluators," said Robert Datorre, chair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association Young Lawyers Division. "These students deserve many congratulations for rising to the top rounds of competition, and their teacher coaches and attorney advisors deserve many thanks for guiding the students throughout the process."

All 12 teams will compete in two quarterfinal rounds from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on March 28. The four winning teams of the quarterfinal rounds will advance to the semifinal round at 8:30 a.m. on March 29. The state championship round will take place at 11 a.m. on March 29 with Justice Correale F. Stevens, Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, serving as the presiding judge.

This year's hypothetical case is a civil trial to determine if a parent or a high school track coach is liable for the death of a student athlete who was taking performance-enhancing drugs.

The case was written by Jonathan A. Grode of Philadelphia, Paul W. Kaufman of Philadelphia and Jonathan D. Koltash of Harrisburg, adapting, with permission, a mock trial case created by the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services and Education and the Young Lawyers of Arizona.

The co-chairs of the Mock Trial Executive Committee are Koltash and 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, April 4 at 7 p.m., Saturday, April 5 at 9:30 p.m., and Monday, April 7 at 10 p.m. The Pennsylvania Bar Foundation, the charitable affiliate of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, is providing funding support for the broadcast.

For more information about the Pennsylvania Bar Association Statewide High School Mock Trial Competition, visit the PBA Web site at

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 27,000 lawyers who are members of the association.