The Tyrone Mock Trial team. Row 1- Gina Gavazzi, Carrie Vance, Chloe Makdad, Adam Zook, Jack Murtagh. Row 2- Makayla Ritchey, Erika Voyzey, Paige Umholtz, Jake Makdad, and Zack Webster. (Todd Cammarata)
The Tyrone Mock Trial team. Row 1- Gina Gavazzi, Carrie Vance, Chloe Makdad, Adam Zook, Jack Murtagh. Row 2- Makayla Ritchey, Erika Voyzey, Paige Umholtz, Jake Makdad, and Zack Webster.

Todd Cammarata

Tyrone competes at the 11th annual Pitt Mock Trial Tourney; Vance wins Tyrone’s first ever individual award

The Mock Trial team will compete next on January 20th at the Blair County Courthouse

January 9, 2015

Senior Carrie Vance has been a member of the Tyrone Mock Trial Team for four years. All four of those years she has traveled to Pittsburgh for University of Pittsburgh’s Annual Mock Trial Tournament.

The Pitt tournament attracts the best high school mock trial teams in the state.  Almost every year the eventual state champion is among the teams competing at the Cathedral of Learning on Pitt’s Oakland campus.

While Tyrone has done well at the tournament in the past, no Tyrone student has ever won an individual award. This past weekend Vance won the first individual award at this tournament in Tyrone history.

Vance took home a Best Witness Award portraying expert witness Lane Dorfman on Tyrone’s defense side of the trial.  To win this award, Vance had to be ranked as the best witness for either side in each of the team’s four trials.

“I was really surprised to win the individual award,” Vance said, “It was the perfect ending to our trip!”

Mock Trial is an extracurricular activity sponsored by the Pennsylvania Bar Association  in which participants argue a fictional court case.  The students must learn parts such as witnesses, expert witnesses and attorneys and argue the case against other high schools from across the state.

I was really surprised to win the individual award, it was the perfect ending to our trip!”

— Carrie Vance, TAHS Senior

Teams prepare both sides, prosecution and defense, and then are assigned trials in which they will argue both sides of the trial.

The trials are very similar to actual court trials. They include a judge and a jury. The jury is made up of attorneys from the area that score each part of the trial. The judge oversees the trial and rules in objections.  Students must understand proper courtroom procedure and the rules of evidence, how to object and respond to objections, how to do a direct and a cross examination and all the other things that a real trial lawyer must know.

Carrie Vance won a Best Witness Award at the competition.
Carrie Vance won a Best Witness Award at the competition.

During the competition, both sides present opening statements explaining their side of the case. The prosecution then calls their three witnesses. They complete a direct examination, then the opposing team has the opportunity to cross examination the witness. Once the prosecution has brought all of its witnesses, the defense does the same.   Both sides then make closing statements to complete the trial.

This year’s case is a first degree murder trial in which the defendant, Harper Marmalard, is on trial for killing Mandy Pepperidge, a fellow college student in a case that focuses on a campus cheating scandal and a fraternity hazing incident.  To read more on the case, visit the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s website.

Tyrone came home from the Pitt tournament with a record of 1-3, but with the feeling that they learned a lot in the process.

“We definitely made strides in the right direction during the tournament,” junior Adam Zook said. “It will really help us with our actual regular season.”

On the first day of the tournament Tyrone won its first match against Franklin Regional High School, arguing the defense side of the case.  The team then lost to Dubois High School arguing the prosecution’s case.

On the second day, Tyrone lost to Central High School in their first match arguing for the prosecution. The final round was against Spring Grove High School. Tyrone lost a close trial on the defense.

“I thought that we did really well,” said Mock Trial coach/advisor Todd Cammarata. “Our case improved a lot. We are also very proud of Carrie for bringing home the Best Witness Award. Carrie has been doing a great job in Mock Trial for four years, so she really deserved it.”

We are also very proud of Carrie for bringing home one of the best witness awards. She has been doing Mock Trial for four years, so she really deserved it.”

— Todd Cammarata, Mock Trial Advisor

Tyrone’s first regular season trial will be on January 20 against Windber at the Blair County Courthouse in Hollidaysburg at arguing prosecution side of this case.   The trial will begin at 6:00 pm.   The event is free and open to the public.

Their second trial will be on January 28, 2015 against Bishop McCourt at the Cambria County Courthouse in Ebensburg.  The start time is 5:30 pm.  This trial is also free and open to the public.

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