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Eden Christian Academy and Upper St. Clair High School Advance to Pennsylvania Bar Association Statewide Mock Trial Championship

HARRISBURG (March 24, 2016) - Eden Christian Academy and Upper St. Clair High School are two of the 14 high schools advancing to the 33rd Annual Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA) Statewide High School Mock Trial Competition, Friday, April 1, and Saturday, April 2, at the Dauphin County Courthouse in Harrisburg. The competition is sponsored by the PBA Young Lawyers Division.

The Eden Christian Academy Mock Trial Team is composed of students Noah Bishop, Ben Hudock, Kayla Ostaffe, Ben Rogers, Justin Tillotson, Ryan Tillotson and Casey Tissue. The teacher coach is Alisa Waltenbaugh. The attorney advisor is Aubrey Smith.

The Upper St. Clair High School Mock Trial Team is composed of students Amna Amin, Tyler Clark, Raahema Durrani, Erin Graham, Macey Kaplan, Wyatt Keating, Arushi Kewalramani, Yash Lahoti, Vicki Lang, Katherine Starr, Natalie Urban and Abbie Wagner. The teacher coaches are Patricia Palazzolo and Connie Gibson. The attorney advisor is Samuel Hornak.

Eden Christian Academy and Upper St. Clair High School are moving on to the state level as winners of the Region One area of competition that includes schools in Allegheny County.

This year, 315 teams from 271 high schools competed in district and regional levels of Pennsylvania's mock trial competition in hopes of gaining one of the 14 spots at the statewide competition. Pennsylvania’s competition is one of the largest in the nation.

The winning team of the state championship will represent Pennsylvania in the national mock trial finals to be held May 12 - 16 in Boise, Idaho.

"These students are to be applauded for demonstrating the critical-thinking and effective communication skills that are needed to rise to the state level of competition,” said Justin A. Bayer of Norristown, chair of the PBA Young Lawyers Division. “We also applaud the teachers and legal and community volunteers who shared their time and their expertise to make this journey possible for the students."

On April 1, all 14 teams will participate in two rounds of competition, one at 3 p.m. and one at 6 p.m. Up to six teams that have won their first two rounds of competition will advance to an 8:30 a.m. round of competition on April 2. The two winners of this round (or the two highest-ranking teams) will advance to the state final at 11:30 a.m. Beaver County Court of Common Pleas Judge James J. Ross will serve as the presiding judge.

The state championship round will take place at 11:30 a.m. on April 2 with Beaver County Court of Common Pleas Judge James J. Ross serving as the presiding judge.

This year's hypothetical case centers on a civil action to determine whether an insurance company will be forced to cover the costs of a heinous injury to an individual that occurred on a nature preserve.

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

The co-chairs of the Mock Trial Executive Committee are Jonathan D. Koltash of Harrisburg 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 April 7 at 7:30 p.m., April 8 at 9:30 a.m. and April 9 at 7 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 PBA Statewide High School Mock Trial Competition, visit the PBA website 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 27,000 lawyers who are members of the association.