Pennsylvania Mock Trial Competition

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The Pennsylvania Mock Trial Competition is a high school Mock Trial competition in Pennsylvania sponsored by the Pennsylvania Bar Association Young Lawyers Division. The winning school of the state finals advances to the National High School Mock Trial Championship. The Pennsylvania Mock Trial Competition first began in 1984.[1] The case material is usually released early in November, within the first two weeks.

Trial Format[edit]

Opening Statements[edit]

A trial starts with a 5-minute[2] opening statement by the Plaintiff/Prosecution (depending on whether the case is civil or criminal, respectively), which is immediately followed by a 5-minute opening statement by the defense.[3]

Witness Testimony[edit]

After opening statements, the plaintiff/prosecution calls its first witness.[4] The plaintiff/prosecution conducts a direct examination of the witness, and then defense conducts a cross examination of the same witness. After cross-examination, plaintiff/prosecution has the opportunity to conduct a redirect examination of the witness. If they do, defense is given the chance to recross the witness.[5] After either all four types of exams have been conducted or one party abstains from doing redirect or recross respectively, the witness steps down from the stand. This process is then repeated for two more plaintiff/prosecution witnesses. With the conclusion of testimony from the third plaintiff witness, the plaintiff rests. The Defense then calls three witnesses in the same manner described above for the plaintiff/prosecution.

Each team has 30 minutes[6] for witness testimony, including all direct, cross, redirect, and recross examinations conducted by counsel of that team. (The clock does stop, however, for a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to, objections and parts of the process for entering exhibits.[7])

Closing Arguments[edit]

Once the third defense witness has finished giving testimony, the defense gives their closing argument. Like opening statements, closing arguments are limited to 5 minutes apiece.[8] After defense closes, plaintiff/prosecution gives its closing statement. This is a deviation from standard courtroom procedure, in which the plaintiff/prosecution closes first, followed by the defense, after which the plaintiff/prosecution may offer a rebuttal. In Mock Trial, this deviation allows each team to have the opportunity to speak first, one for opening statements and one for closing arguments. Barring any disputes being raised, the second closing argument marks the conclusion of the trial, and the jury is dismissed to tally points.

Scoring & Winner[edit]

Each member of the jury scores each part of the trial based on specific scoring categories, such as the flow of a direct examination or the effectiveness of a cross-examination. Each opening statement or closing argument is worth a maximum of 10 points. Each direct or cross-examination is also worth, at most, 10 points. Each witness can earn a maximum of 10 points independent of any other points from direct examination. There is one team evaluation category scored at the end of the trial, valued at a maximum of 10 points. Therefore, each team can earn up to 120 points during the trial.[9]

On any juror's ballot, the team with more points is the winner of that scoresheet. Each juror indicates which team he/she would choose to win if the points of the scoresheet after any penalties are assessed, adds up to a tie. Each scoresheet is worth one vote. Whichever team receives more votes is declared the winner of the trial. If there is an even number of jurors and they have a split decision, the team with total points on all of the scoresheets is the winner.[10]

Past Cases[edit]

Past Winners[edit]

Year Name Subject of Case
1997 Marshall v. Priestley College[11] Civil Liability
1998 Commonwealth v. Walker[12] Conspiracy and Delivery of a Controlled Substance
1999 Smith v. Lorcin[13] Negligence
2000 Commonwealth v. Krupp[14] Voluntary Manslaughter
2001 Gorey v. Bushing[15] Civil Liability
2002 Commonwealth v. McGrath[16] Arson
2003 Day v. Knight[17] Negligence
2004 Commonwealth v. Max Ability[18] Theft
2005 Gallo v. Urbanski[19] Civil Liability (and First Amendment rights)
2006 Commonwealth v. Olson[20] Third-Degree Murder
2007 Anderson v. Williams[21] Civil Cyberstalking Laws
2008 Commonwealth v. Sinclair[22] Kidnapping
2009 Hansbra v. Plane's Park & Polish, LLC[23] Negligence
2010 Commonwealth of PA v. Legan Arabach[24] Third-Degree Murder
2011 The Estate of Simone Langston v. Dr. Lefu Harrison[25] Competency to Consent
2012 The Wisawe Chapter of Friends of Bog Turtles v. ZenoPharma, Inc.[26] Critical habitat determination
2013 Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Tatum Zillias[27] Third-Degree Murder
2014 The Estate of Jordan Simon v. Ruffed Grouse High School[28] Wrongful death
2015 The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Harper Marmalard[29] First Degree
2016 Lilienthal Insurance, Inc. v. Natural Habitat Preserve[30] Insurance Indemnification
2017 The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Taylor Edsel[31] Arson
2018 Silva Morel v. Tiger Tail Technologies[32] Civil- Adverse Employment Action}
Year Winner Place at Nationals Runner-Up
1987 Central Cambria High School
1988 Bensalem High School 4 Bishop Carrol High School
1989 Bensalem High School
1990 Quigley Catholic High School Delone Catholic High School
1991 Scranton Preparatory High School Kiski Area High School
1992 Norristown Area High School J. P. McCaskey High School
1993 North Pocono Area High School 26 Bensalem High School
1994 Quigley Catholic High School 9 North Pocono High School
1995 Quigley Catholic High School 20 North Pocono High School
1996 Quigley Catholic High School 10 North Allegheny High School
1997 Overbrook High School Seton LaSalle High School
1998 Punxsutawney Area High School 30 George Washington Carver High School of Engineering & Science
1999 Julia R. Masterman High School[33] 15 Quigley Catholic High School
2000 Quigley Catholic High School[34] 21 Mount Saint Joseph Academy
2001 Greensburg-Salem High School[35] 18 Devon Preparatory High School
2002 Quigley Catholic High School[36] 2 Gateway High School
2003 Gateway High School[37] 22 Quigley Catholic High School
2004 Overbrook High School[38] 32 Oliver High School
2005 Greensburg-Salem High School[39] 12 Scranton Preparatory High School
2006 Greensburg-Salem High School[40] 4 Julia R. Masterman High School
2007 Greensburg-Salem High School[41] 14 Scranton Preparatory High School
2008 Overbrook High School[42] 15 Greensburg-Salem High School
2009 Central High School[43] 10 Overbrook High School
2010 Scranton Preparatory High School[44] 10 B. Reed Henderson High School
2011 Wyoming Seminary High School[45] 6 St. Joseph's Preparatory School
2012 Scranton Preparatory High School[46] 10 J.P. McCaskey High School
2013 Quigley Catholic High School 16 Greensburg-Salem High School
2014 Altoona Area High School 22 Roman Catholic High School
2015 Quigley Catholic High School 13 Roman Catholic High School

Quigley Catholic High School

18 Wyoming Seminary High School

Greensburg-Salem High School

Roman Catholic High School


  1. ^ The Wisawe Chapter of Friends of Bog Turtles v. ZenoPharma, Inc- Introduction and Acknowledgements
  2. ^ 2011 PA Rules of Competition- Rule 6.23
  3. ^ 2011 PA Rules of Competition- Rule 6.10(b)
  4. ^ 2011 PA Rules of Competition- Rule 4.1
  5. ^ 2011 PA Mock Trial Rules of Evidence- Rule 611d
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ 2011 PA Rules of Competition- Rule 6.26
  8. ^ 2011 PA Rules of Competition- Rule 6.23
  9. ^ [2]
  10. ^ 2011 PA Rules of Competition- Rule 8.1 (g) iii
  11. ^ Marshall v. Priestley College
  12. ^ Commonwealth v. Walker
  13. ^ Smith v. Lorcin
  14. ^ Commonwealth v. Krupp
  15. ^ Gorey v. Bushing
  16. ^ Commonwealth v. McGrath
  17. ^ Day v. Knight
  18. ^ Commonwealth v. Max Ability
  19. ^ Gallo v. Urbanski
  20. ^ Commonwealth v. Olson
  21. ^ Anderson v. Williams
  22. ^ Commonwealth v. Sinclair
  23. ^ Hansbra v. Plane's Park & Polish, LLC
  24. ^ Commonwealth of PA v. Legan Arabach
  25. ^ The Estate of Simone Langston v. Dr Lefu Harrison
  26. ^ The Wisawe Chapter of Friends of Bog Turtles v. ZenoPharma, Inc.
  27. ^ Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Tatum Zillias
  28. ^ Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Tatum Zillias
  29. ^ [3]
  30. ^ [4]
  31. ^ "2017 Pennsylvania Statewide High School Mock Trial Competition" (PDF). 
  32. ^ [5]
  33. ^ PBA Press Release- March 18, 2010
  34. ^ PBA Press Release- April, 2000
  35. ^ PBA Press Release- April, 2001
  36. ^ PBA Press Release- March 23, 2002
  37. ^ PBA Press Release- March 31, 2003
  38. ^ PBA Press Release- March 29, 2004
  39. ^ Westmoreland Bar Association Newsletter- March-April 2005
  40. ^ PBA Press Release- April 3, 2006
  41. ^ PBA Press Release- March 31, 2007
  42. ^ PBA Press Release- March 29, 2008
  43. ^ PBA Press Release- March 28, 2009
  44. ^ PBA Press Release- March 27, 2010
  45. ^ PBA Press Release- March 26, 2011
  46. ^ Lancaster Online- McCaskey team takes 2nd place in Pa. mock trial

External links[edit]