HARRISBURG, Pa. (March 21, 2023) — Fourteen Pennsylvania high schools are advancing to the 40th Annual Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA) Statewide High School Mock Trial Competition finals, which will be held March 24-25. The competition is coordinated and sponsored by the PBA Young Lawyers Division.
This year, 245 teams from 208 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.
The winning team of the state championship will represent Pennsylvania in the national mock trial finals to be held May 18-20 in Little Rock, Arkansas.
“To reach this level of the competition, it takes extraordinary teamwork, communication and analytical skills,” said PBA Young Lawyers Division Chair Patrice Turenne. “The PBA extends congratulations to these dedicated hard-working students and thanks to the teacher coaches, attorney advisors and community volunteers who encouraged and supported them during this academic endeavor. Best of luck to all teams as they strive to move forward in the mock trial competition.”
Rounds one and two of the competition will be March 24 at 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Round three will be March 25 at 8:30 a.m. The two highest-ranking teams will advance to the final round. All trials will be held in the Dauphin County Courthouse. Judge Thomas I. Vanaskie, retired from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, will serve as the presiding judge.
This year’s case is a trial to determine whether a man who participated in an obstacle race and disappeared in the muddy water after “walking the plank” in an abandoned ship obstacle assumed his own risk, or if the event organizers were at fault for negligence.
The case was adapted by Jonathan A. Grode, Paul W. Kaufman and Jonathan D. Koltash from materials originally written by the Iowa State Bar Association Center for Law and Civic Education.
Serving as co-chairs of the Mock Trial Executive Committee are Koltash and Jennifer Menichini, a past chair of the Young Lawyers Division.
During the competition, 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:
- Acquinas Academy of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County
- Eden Christian Academy, Allegheny County
- Northwestern High School, Erie County
- Seneca Valley Sr. High School, Butler County
- Greensburg Salem High School, Westmoreland County
- State College Area High School, Centre County
- Wyoming Seminary College Preparatory School, Luzerne County
- Cumberland Valley High School, Cumberland County
- Bensalem High School, Bucks County
- Central Bucks South High School, Bucks County
- Central High School of Philadelphia, Philadelphia County
- Roman Catholic High School, Philadelphia County
- Lower Moreland High School, Montgomery County
- Scranton Preparatory School, Lackawanna County
For more information about the 2023 PBA Statewide Mock Trial Championships and to read this year’s case, visit https://www.pabar.org/site/For-the-Public/Mock-Trial-Competition.