HARRISBURG — Lakeland High School is one of the 14 high schools advancing to the 33rd Annual Pennsylvania Bar Association (PBA) Statewide High School Mock Trial Competition, Friday, April 1, and Saturday, April 2, at the Dauphin County Courthouse. The competition is sponsored by the PBA Young Lawyers Division.
The Lakeland High School Mock Trial Team is composed of Cameron Bullet, Nick Catanzaro, Isabella Demyan, Michael Goerlitz, Taylor O’Leary, Elisa Piraino, Dylan Reeves, Dylan Smith, Anthony Whitelavich and Annie Yurgosky. The teacher coach is Louise Ofcharsky. The attorney advisor is Patti Rieder.
Lakeland High School is moving on to the state level as the winner of the Region 10 area of competition that includes schools in Bradford, Lackawanna, Monroe, Pike, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Wayne and Wyoming counties.
This year, 315 teams from 271 high schools competed in district and regional levels of Pennsylvania’s mock trial competition in hopes of gaining one of the 14 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 12 - 16 in Boise, Idaho.
On April 1, all 14 teams will participate in two rounds of competition, one at 3 p.m. and one at 6 p.m. Up to six teams that have won their first two rounds of competition will advance to an 8:30 a.m. round of competition on April 2. The two winners of this round (or the two highest-ranking teams) will advance to the state final at 11:30 a.m. Beaver County Court of Common Pleas Judge James J. Ross will serve as the presiding judge.
The state championship round will take place at 11:30 a.m. on April 2 with Beaver County Court of Common Pleas Judge James J. Ross serving as the presiding judge.
This year’s hypothetical case centers on a civil action to determine whether an insurance company will be forced to cover the costs of a heinous injury to an individual that occurred on a nature preserve.
The case was written by Jonathan A. Grode of Philadelphia, Paul W. Kaufman of Philadelphia, Koltash and Stanford University student Talia Charme-Zane, an alumna of the Pennsylvania mock trial program and former captain of the Central High School team in Philadelphia.
The co-chairs of the Mock Trial Executive Committee are Jonathan D. Koltash of Harrisburg and Traci L. Naugle of Altoona.
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 and lawyer coaches in preparing for competition. Volunteer lawyers and community leaders serve as jurors in the 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 Pennsylvania Cable Network will record the final round of the competition for airing statewide at 7:30 p.m. April 7, 9:30 a.m. April 8 and 7 p.m. April 9. The Pennsylvania Bar Foundation, the charitable affiliate of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, is providing funding support for the broadcast.
For more information about the PBA Statewide High School Mock Trial Competition, visit pabar.org.