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Altoona Area High School (Blair County) Wins Pennsylvania Bar Association Statewide Mock Trial Competition

Altoona Matched with Roman Catholic High School (Philadelphia) in Final Round of Competition

HARRISBURG (March 31, 2014) - Altoona Area High School won the 31st Annual Pennsylvania Bar Association Statewide High School Mock Trial Competition, which took place at the Dauphin County Courthouse in Harrisburg on March 28 and 29.

The Altoona Area High School Mock Trial Team will represent Pennsylvania in the National High School Mock Trial Championship 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.

Joining Altoona High School Mock Trial Team in the final round of competition was Roman Catholic High School (Philadelphia). The Roman Catholic High School Mock Trial Team is composed of Vincent Capitolo, Andrew DiCicco, Jon Lai, Anthony Nguyen, Bill Rubin, Michael Schwoerer, Phil Tedros, Kyle Westerfer and George Zindel. The teacher coach is John Pensabene. The attorney advisor is Steven Patton.

Justice Correale F. Stevens, Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, presided over the final round of competition.

"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, which oversees the competition. "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."

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.

Earlier in the day, Roman Catholic High School competed with Cumberland Valley High School (Cumberland County) and Altoona Area High School competed with Pine Richland High School (Allegheny County) in the semifinal round of competition.

Eight additional teams participated in the state championships, including the following:

Abington Heights High School (Lackawanna County), B. Reed Henderson High School (Chester County), Beaver Area High School (Beaver County), Central High School (Blair County), Hazleton Area High School (Luzerne County), State College Area High School (Centre County), Strath Haven High School (Delaware County) and The Haverford School (Montgomery County)

This year, a total of 327 teams from 274 high schools competed in the district and regional levels of Pennsylvania's mock trial competition - one of the largest in the nation.

Through 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 attorney advisors 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 recorded 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 Mock Trial Championships, 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 27,000 lawyers who are members of the association.