HARRISBURG (March 23, 2021) — Sixteen Pennsylvania high schools are advancing to the 38th Annual Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA) Statewide High School Mock Trial Competition finals, which will be held virtually this Friday, March 26, Saturday, March 27 and Tuesday, March 30. The competition is coordinated and sponsored by the PBA Young Lawyers Division.
This year, 232 teams from 199 high schools competed in district and regional levels of Pennsylvania's mock trial competition in hopes of gaining one of the 16 spots at the statewide competition that was held virtually for the first time. 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 virtually, May 13 – 15, Evansville, Ind.
“Our outstanding mock trial team, led by co-chairs Jonathan Koltash and Jennifer Menichini, made the tough decision in advance of the school year to host mock trial remotely this year,” said PBA Young Lawyers Division Chair Colin O’Boyle. “We believe that participating Pennsylvania students will continue to lead the way nationwide and that, while different, this year’s competition will be every bit as powerful, meaningful and fun as it has been in years past.”
On March 26, all 16 teams will participate in two rounds of competition, one at 1:30 p.m. and one at 5:30 p.m. Up to eight teams that have won their first two rounds of competition will advance to an 8:30 a.m. round of competition on March 27. The two winners of this round (or the two highest-ranking teams) will advance to the state final on March 30 at 4:30 p.m. President Judge Kimberly Berkeley Clark, Fifth Judicial District of Pennsylvania, will serve as the presiding judge.
This year’s hypothetical case, Estate of George Romero v. Ashley Williams, is a civil trial to determine whether the defendant is guilty of murdering George Romero with a chemical the defendant prepared.
The case was written by Jonathan A. Grode and Paul W. Kaufman, both of Philadelphia. Grode and Kaufman have been involved in the drafting of these materials for the past seven years.
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 coaches and lawyer advisors in preparing for competition. Lawyers and community leaders serve as jurors for the mock 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 teams participating in this year’s state finals are:
- Eden Christian Academy, Allegheny County
- Mount Lebanon High School, Allegheny County
- Abington Heights High School, Lackawanna County
- Meadville Area Senior High School, Crawford County
- North Catholic High School, Butler County
- Greensburg Salem High School, Westmoreland County
- State College Area High School, Centre County
- Cumberland Valley High School, Cumberland County
- Nazareth Area High School, Northampton County
- Central Bucks South High School, Bucks County
- Merion Mercy Academy, Delaware County
- Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School (PALCS), Chester County
- Roman Catholic High School, Philadelphia County
- Saint Joseph’s Preparatory School, Philadelphia County
- Harriton High School, Montgomery County
- Lower Merion High School, Montgomery County
For more information about the PBA Statewide High School Mock Trial Competition, visit the PBA website at https://www.pabar.org/site/For-the-Public/Mock-Trial-Competition.
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 of legal services; and serve the lawyer members of the state’s largest organized bar association.