The MMI Preparatory School Mock Trial team advanced to the District 2 Championships following semifinal wins by its defense and prosecution units.
Garrett Kost, Marc Lobitz, John Malay, Joshua Narrow, Hunter O’Clair, Erin Sari and Jonathan Smith were MMI’s winning defense team members. Ali Aijaz, Merci Centrella, Kevin Cibak, Andrew Decker, Evan Dryfoos, Mahad Muhammad and Jonathan Smith were members of the winning prosecution team.
D. Scott Wiggins, MMI Head of School and Mock Trial adviser, said, “The performance of our student attorneys and witnesses was extraordinary. The magnitude of time and investment it takes to prepare oneself and carry forth in a courtroom in front of real judges and attorney juries is immense. While the teams did not prevail in the District 2 Championship round, I’m proud of how these 13 students performed and represented MMI during the competition.”
Pennsylvania’s Mock Trial program, now in its 34th year, is one of the largest in the nation. The Statewide Mock Trial Competition is sponsored by the Pennsylvania Bar Association Young Lawyers Division. MMI competes in Region 5 and its district is comprised of schools from throughout Luzerne and Schuylkill counties.
Each team competes in a real courtroom before an actual judge. The students, who play the roles of lawyers, witnesses, plaintiffs and defendants, are assisted by teacher coaches and lawyer advisers in preparing for competition. Lawyers and community leaders serve as jurors for the mock trials. MMI’s Jonathan Smith played the vital role of timekeeper for the prosecution and defense units. A key post given that strict time limits are imposed by competition rules. This year’s hypothetical case was a criminal trial to determine whether the defendant was guilty of committing an act of arson that destroyed an advanced automotive plant.
During the competition, each side presented an opening statement, which informed the judge and jury of the relevant facts, as well as how its theory of the case would be proven. Next, each witness was examined for the facts and knowledge he or she could bring to the case. After the Plaintiff/Prosecution's three witnesses testified, one of the Defense attorneys questioned his or her first witness in a direct examination. The Plaintiff/Prosecution’s attorney then had the opportunity to cross-examine. The same procedure was used for the Defense’s second and third witnesses. Finally, the attorneys presented their closing statements, which gave a summation of the theory of the case and the recovery requested. The jury determined the winners in each trial based on the teams’ abilities to prepare their cases, present arguments and follow court rules.
Garrett Kost is the son of Joseph and Natalie Kost, Freeland; Marc Lobitz is the son of Dr. Mark and Stephanie Lobitz, Hazleton; John Malay is the son of John and Kathryn Malay, Jim Thorpe; Joshua Narrow is the son of Howard and Marie Narrow, Hazleton; Hunter O’Clair is the son of Candice and Timothy O’Clair, Drums; Erin Sari is the daughter of Izzet and Mumine Sari, Sugarloaf; Jonathan Smith is the son of Jonathan Smith and Beatrice Russo-Smith, White Haven; Ali Aijaz is the son of Fakhruddin and Dr. Naghma Aijaz, Mountaintop; Merci Centrella is the daughter of Lorenzo and Josephine Centrella, Weatherly; Kevin Cibak is the son of James and Deidre Cibak, Sugarloaf; Andrew Decker is the son of Aaron Decker, Kingston, and Elizabeth and Troy Topolski, Sugarloaf; Evan Dryfoos is the son of Llewellyn and Maura Dryfoos, Sugarloaf; and Mahad Muhammad is the daughter of Ikram and Alia Muhammad, Mountaintop.