The following press release is from the Pennsylvania Bar Association, which announced earlier this month that Saucon Valley High School is one of more than 20 participating teams from Region 5 (Northeast PA), District 1, which includes both Lehigh and Northampton counties. Other local schools participating in the competition include Bethlehem Catholic High School, Easton Area High School, Nazareth Area High School, Parkland High School, Allentown Central Catholic High School and Pen Argyl High School.
Beginning this month, 333 teams from 276 high schools across Pennsylvania will be competing in district and regional levels of the Statewide Mock Trial Competition sponsored by the Pennsylvania Bar Association Young Lawyers Division.
Pennsylvania's mock trial program, now in its 30th year, is one of the largest in the nation.
"Participation in mock trial competition is one of the top academic challenges that thousands of Pennsylvania students will face during their high school careers," said Jacob A. Gurwitz of Reading, chair of the association's Young Lawyers Division. "The students must demonstrate excellent presentation and critical-thinking skills in front of real-life judges, lawyers and business professionals, who will determine whether the students have what it takes to advance to higher rounds of competition."
Gurwitz extended a thank-you to teachers and lawyers participating in the program.
"Preparing students for district, regional and state mock trials requires thousands of hours of dedicated leadership and guidance from teachers and lawyers who voluntarily step forward to help with this program. This competition simply would not be possible without their tremendous support," Gurwitz said.
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 district and regional levels of the competition will continue throughout February and March. At the conclusion of the local competitions, 12 high school mock trial teams will advance to the Pennsylvania Bar Association Statewide Mock Trial Championships, March 22 and 23, in Harrisburg. The Pennsylvania Cable Network will record the final round of the competition for later airing statewide.
The winning team of the state championship will represent Pennsylvania in the national mock trial finals to be held May 9-11 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The Pennsylvania Bar Foundation, the charitable affiliate of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, will provide funding support for the statewide competition.
The chair of the Mock Trial Executive Committee is Traci L. Naugle of Altoona.
For this year's hypothetical case, a jury must determine if the developer of an urban renewal project is responsible for a crane collapse that killed two people.
The case was written by Jonathan A. Grode of Philadelphia and Paul W. Kaufman of Philadelphia. Jane E. Meyer of Harrisburg edited the final version of the case in collaboration with Grode and Kaufman.
For more information about the 2013 Pennsylvania Bar Association Statewide Mock Trial Championships and to read this year's case, go to the Young Lawyers Division's section of the PBA website at http://www.pabar.org. Interested volunteers should contact Maria Engles of the Pennsylvania Bar Association at 800-932-0311, extension 2223.
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 28,000 lawyers who are members of the association.