Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School in South
Hadley has been named state champion of the Massachusetts Bar
Association's 2011 Mock Trial Program. The April 1 finals were held
at Faneuil Hall in Boston, where PVPA challenged and took victory
over Boston Latin School. PVPA was also champion in 2006 and made
the finals several times, including last year.
The Mock Trial Program began its 26th year in January. The
competition places high school teams from 16 regions across the
state in simulated courtroom situations where they assume the roles
of lawyers, defendants and witnesses in hypothetical cases. More
than 120 teams competed in this year's competition, which included
more than 200 trials.
PVPA and Boston Latin competed during a nearly three-hour mock
trial in Faneuil Hall's Great Hall. Pioneer Valley represented the
defendant, "Eddie Bernson," an Olney, Mass., high school senior
charged with involuntary manslaughter for the death of two people
in a car accident. Bernson was accused of removing a stop sign from
a dangerous accident as part of a high school scavenger hunt.
Boston Latin acted as the prosecution.
Norfolk Probate and Family Court Associate Justice John D. Casey
served as the presiding judge, while Superior Court Associate
Justice John T. Lu and District Court Justice Barbara Savitt
"There aren't any losers. You are all winners. You are all
wonderful," said Pearson, who shared with students how impressed
she was with their composure during the trial.
Casey said Pioneer Valley was victorious in defending Bernson,
who was found not guilty. That win, however, did not mean Pioneer
Valley would automatically take the championship. The judges
determined, unanimously, that Pioneer Valley was the victor because
it received the higher score. The judges based their calculations
on a number of factors, including presentation and knowledge of
both the case and law.
"We at the MBA hope you have found this competition a rewarding
opportunity so far - something that has brought about a greater
appreciation of yourselves, your teammates, the law, court
proceedings and the American judicial system," MBA Secretary Marsha
V. Kazarosian said.
PVPA advances to the National High School Mock Trial Championship
May 4-8 in Phoenix. A portion of the trip will be funded by a
donation from the MBA's philanthropic partner, the Massachusetts
The Mock Trial Program is made possible by the international law
firm of Brown Rudnick through its Center for the Public Interest in
Boston, which has contributed $25,000 each year to the program