HARRISBURG (March 30, 2022) — Abington Heights High School in Lackawanna County won the Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA) Statewide High School Mock Trial Competition, which took place March 24, 25, 26 and 29 virtually. The competition is sponsored by the PBA Young Lawyers Division.
Abington Heights High School also claimed the 2021 state title.
This year’s winning team will represent Pennsylvania in the national mock trial finals to be held virtually, May 5-7.
The Abington Heights High School mock trial team students were Faith Bennett, Michael Cummins, Dane Huggler, Reenad Khan, Chloe Levasseur, Aidan Lam, Madeline Herold, William Newton, Zachary Riggall, Thomas Russini, Noor Rutty, Aiden Snyder and Adam Tinkelman. The teacher coaches were Anne Cummins and Leonard Romanski. The attorney advisor was Daniel Cummins.
Joining the Abington Heights team in the final round of competition was St. Joseph’s Preparatory School in Philadelphia County. Team students were Francis Amuso, Eamon Coffey, Bryce Goodman, Anthony Hays, John Jaeger, Daniel Law, Nolan Reddy and Robert Woltjen. The teacher coach was Leslie Ryan. The attorney advisor was Thomas Johnson.
Judge Giovanni O. Campbell, Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, presided over the final round of competition.
“These outstanding student champions have earned high recognition for rising to the top level of statewide competition,” said Paul Edger, chair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, which oversees the event. “Their countless hours of hard work resulted in impressive critical-thinking, presentation and teamwork skills that reflected their extensive knowledge of the justice system.
“The PBA extends special thanks to all teacher coaches, attorney advisors and volunteers who helped prepare the students for the competition. In addition, we appreciate the volunteer district/regional coordinators, judges and attorneys who took the time to judge and score more than 400 separate mock trial rounds this year. Everyone involved should be commended for sharing their time and expertise to help guide the students throughout the competition process.
“Congratulations to our statewide champions!”
In addition to Abington Heights, 13 teams participated in the state championships, including: Altoona Area High School, Blair County; Butler High School, Butler County; Central Bucks East High School, Bucks County; Cumberland Valley High School, Cumberland County; Eden Christian Academy, Allegheny County; Fleetwood High School, Berks County; Lower Moreland High School, Montgomery County; Merion Mercy Academy, Delaware County; Mount Lebanon High School, Allegheny County; Northwestern High School, Erie County; Saint Joseph’s Preparatory School, Philadelphia County; State College Area High School, Centre County; and The Haverford School, Montgomery County.
This year, 247 teams from 203 high schools competed in district and regional levels of Pennsylvania's mock trial competition in hopes of gaining one of the spots at the statewide competition. Pennsylvania’s competition is one of the largest in the nation.
Throughout the competition, eight-member student teams were given the opportunity to argue both sides of the case 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 served as jurors for the mock trials. The juries determined 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, The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Edi Arcaro, is a criminal trial to determine whether the defendant is guilty of murdering a man of great wealth who was a former critical player in the horse-racing industry with an extensive list of connections.
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 eight years.
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.