Bellwood-Antis Mock Trial team has successful year

The Bellwood-Antis School District was one of 259 high schools across Pennsylvania that recently competed in the Pennsylvania Bar Association Young Lawyers Division 2007 Statewide Mock Trial Competition.
Pennsylvania’s mock trial program is one of the largest in the country. The Bellwood-Antis team held a practice mock trial against Altoona High School and competed against Central and Hollidaysburg in its two district competitions. Bellwood came up short in its match with Central but defeated Hollidaysburg.
This year’s case centered on a series of threatening remarks that appeared on a high school run Internet chat room, which a student claims caused severe emotional distress resulting in lower grades and the loss of a valedictorian scholarship. In the competition, each team of eight students was given the opportunity to argue both sides of the case, as the Plaintiff and the Defendant. Both of Bellwood’s competitions were held in a courtroom at the Blair County Court of Common Pleas in Hollidaysburg. Blair County Court of Common Pleas Judge Timothy Sullivan served as the trial judge for both of Bellwood’s competitions.
The Bellwood-Antis students, who played the roles of the attorneys, witnesses, plaintiffs and defendants, were assisted by teacher coach Robert Fisher and attorney advisor Fred Miller in preparing for their competition. The jury for each competition consisted of volunteer attorneys and community leaders. Each team was scored based upon its ability to prepare their case, present arguments and follow court rules.
Teacher coach Robert Fisher stated, “I am real proud of the effort and dedication of the Mock Trial team this year. Even though the team was young and inexperienced, they were willing to put in the time necessary to be competitive. We have a great nucleus back for next year and expect to improve even more.”
District Judge Fred Miller, who served as the team’s attorney advisor, stated, “It was a great experience for the students. Judge Sullivan took the time after each competition to speak with our team and offer invaluable advice. I give each student credit, although Mr. Fisher and I served as advisors, once an actual mock trial started the students were entirely on their own. The rules restrict advisors from giving any advice or assistance during the trial. The students not only had to know all of the facts of the case, they had to be aware of both courtroom procedure and the civil rules of procedure.
“I thoroughly enjoyed working with both Mr. Fisher and the Bellwood-Antis students and will not be the very least surprised to learn in the future that some of them end up practicing law here in Blair County,” stated Miller.