Area schools participate in 2018 PBA Statewide Mock Trial

HARRISBURG — 249 teams from 291 high schools across Pennsylvania — including Region 4 (Northcentral), District 2 teams Galeton Area High School, Central Mountain High School and Montoursville Area High School — will compete in district and regional levels of the Statewide Mock Trial Competition held by the Pennsylvania Bar Association Young Lawyers Division.

“Throughout its history, the competition has offered students the opportunity to learn about the laws and the courts and to build important communication and teamwork skills that will serve them well throughout their lifetimes,” said Jonathan D. Koltash of Harrisburg, chair of the association’s Young Lawyers Division and co-chair of the Mock Trial Executive Committee. “I know firsthand the amount of time, effort and energy that goes into planning and executing this program each year, and extend my deep appreciation and gratitude to the hundreds of teacher, lawyer and community member volunteers who make it such a success time again.”

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, 14 high school mock trial teams will advance to the Pennsylvania Bar Association Statewide Mock Trial Championships, March 23 and 24, in Harrisburg.

The winning team of the state championship will represent Pennsylvania in the national mock trial finals to be held May 10-12 in Reno, Nevada.

The Pennsylvania Bar Foundation, the charitable affiliate of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, is providing funding support for the statewide competition.

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

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case is a civil trial to determine whether the plaintiff, who exposed a fellow colleague’s alleged bribery, was withdrawn an offer to her employer’s Leadership Development Program in retaliation against her whistleblowing to cover up the bribe or a business decision to cut ties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

For more information about the 2018 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 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 26,000 lawyers who are members of the association.

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