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

HARRISBURG (March 24, 2016) Central High School and Huntingdon Area 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 Central High School Mock Trial Team is composed of students Aaron Clouse, Hannah Flaugh , Courtney Frye, Alex Garver, Chris Houp, Ashley Josapak, Jenna Metzler, Jacob Muthler, Eva Rhule and Ashley Sherry. The teacher coaches are Mara Hershberger, Brad A. Heuston, Lainie Heuston and Kate Muthler. The attorney advisor is Warren Crilly III.

The Huntingdon Area High School Mock Trial Team is composed of Elliot Biddle, Molly Biddle, Connor Heath, Hunter Mitchell, Jacob Nead, Cassidy Pembrooke, Lauren Reed-Brown, Brandt Sliver, Dylan Wentzel and Madisyn Wright-Weir. The teacher coach is Sylvia Kurtz. The attorney advisor is Christopher Wencker.

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

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

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.