Wyoming Seminary College Preparatory School Wins Pennsylvania Bar Association Statewide Mock Trial Competition

Penn Trafford High School (Westmoreland County) competed against Wyoming Seminary College Preparatory School (Luzerne County) in Final Round of Competition

HARRISBURG (March 26, 2018) — Wyoming Seminary College Preparatory School in Luzerne County won the 35th Annual Pennsylvania Bar Association Statewide High School Mock Trial Competition, which took place at the Dauphin County Courthouse in Harrisburg on March 23 and 24. It also won the 2011 PBA Statewide High School Mock Trial competition.

Wyoming Seminary College Preparatory School will represent Pennsylvania in the national mock trial finals to be held May 10 – 12 in Reno, Nev.

The Wyoming Seminary College Preparatory School mock trial team is composed of students Corey Bohn, Shailee Desai, Jillayne Gumbs, Molly Leahy, Meghna Melkote, Philip Ouellette and Morgan Price. The teacher coaches are Adam Carlisle, David Johnson and Caroline Reppert. The attorney advisors are Paul Galante and Zach Watkins.

Joining the Wyoming Seminary College Preparatory School team in the final round of competition was Penn Trafford High School in Westmoreland County. The team is composed of Jeffrey Backus, Noel Bass-Riley, Emma Bender, Grace Bender, Taylor Boulware, Cole Casey, Eden Elma, Maddy Haberberger, Livvy Haberberger, Emily Mears, Natalie Norman, Zachary Perrin, Kate Polechko and Eleonora Yuschock. The teacher coaches are Christina Wukich, Jen Haberberger and Bridget Ruschak. The attorney advisor is Steve Fulton.

This was the first time the Penn Trafford High School team competed at the state level of competition.

Judge James J. Ross, Beaver County Court of Common Pleas, presided over the final round of competition.

“I commend these finalists for demonstrating the highest levels of critical-thinking and effective communication skills needed to compete in the state championship level of competition,” said Jonathan D. Koltash of Harrisburg, chair of the association’s Young Lawyers Division and co-chair of the Mock Trial Executive Committee. “Congratulations to all involved and best of luck to the Wyoming Seminary College Preparatory School mock trial team as they prepare to represent Pennsylvania in the national finals.”

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

Upper Saint Clair High School (Allegheny County), New Brighton Senior High School (Beaver County), Trinity High School (Washington County), State College Area High School (Centre County), Spring Grove High School (York County),  Cumberland Valley High School (Cumberland County), B. Reed Henderson High School (Chester County), Merion Mercy Academy (Delaware County), Roman Catholic High School (Philadelphia County), Lower Moreland High School (Montgomery County), Harriton High School (Montgomery County) and Holy Cross High School (Lackawanna County).

This year, 291 teams from 249 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.

Throughout 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.

This year’s hypothetical case is a civil trial to determine whether the plaintiff, who exposed a fellow colleague’s alleged bribery, was withdrawn an offer to her employer’s Leadership Development Program in retaliation against her whistleblowing to cover up the bribe or a business decision to cut ties with an unreliable employee.

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

Serving along with Koltash as co-chair of the Mock Trial Executive Committee is Jennifer Menichini of Scranton.

The Pennsylvania Cable Network will record the final round of the competition for airing statewide on March 31 at 7 p.m., April 1 at 2 p.m. and April 5 at 7:30 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 26,000 lawyers who are members of the association.