Mock trial competition sees four local schools advance

Patty Todd of Smethport Area High School's prosecution team delivers the summation to the "jury" in the large courtroom. Smethport defeated Galeton's defense team in a split decision. Dominic Cercone, magisterial district judge from Bradford, took the role as "judge."

SMETHPORT — Teams from Smethport, Coudersport, Oswayo Valley and Otto-Eldred took top honors in the first two rounds of the Statewide High School Mock Trial Competition Friday at the McKean County Courthouse and now advance to the district finals Feb. 11.

Teams from the participating schools represented the prosecution and defense in a hypothetical case in which the defendant is al pain management doctor accused of prescribing opiate painkillers outside the realm of normal medical practice, resulting in the death of his patient.

This marks the 36th year the Pennsylvania Bar Association Young Lawyers Division has sponsored the mock trial competition, one of the largest in the nation.

"This activity is an excellent learning opportunity for the students from our District — District 3 of Region 4 that covers Elk, Cameron, McKean and Potter counties," said Bradford attorney Dan Lang, district coordinator. "They are afforded an opportunity to learn how our system of justice operates, as well as build on their public speaking, teamwork, critical thinking and many other skills. And they have fun, too!"

Lang recognized the county's Common Pleas and magisterial district judges and members of the McKean County Bar Association for dedicating their time for being judges and jurors (scoring judges) for the competition. "Due to their efforts, the students receive valuable feedback from practicing judges and attorneys," Lang noted.

"The county bar association has been a major supporter of this competition, both by putting the competition on each year and by dedicating their time as jurors. The McKean County Court of Common Pleas also allows us to utilize their courtroom facilities each year for the competition," Lang added.