For almost 30 years, Bristol High School has provided students with firsthand experience of the judicial system in the United States. This year, the team –comprised of mostly underclassmen– were ready as the The Young Lawyers Division of the Pennsylvania Bar Associations sponsored its 35th year of mock trial competition with the case of the “Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v Rae Shafer, M.D.” BHS representatives joined more than 300 high school student teams from across the state who were given the opportunity to act as lawyers, defendant(s), and witnesses. This year’s case centered around on a holistic doctor whose prescription of opioids caused a lethal drug interaction.
The BHS Mock Trial team performed strongly against Council Rock as well as Central Bucks School Districts over a two-day span at the Doylestown County Courthouse. Although not awarded the verdict, our team matched the strong opposition, and while serving as the role of the defense, brought home the distinction of “Outstanding Witness, and “Outstanding Counsel.”
Mock trial is experiential learning at its best. Students not only bond with their teammates through hard work and collaboration, but also use their higher order thinking skills to identify the rules and nuances of the legal system. Public speaking skills are fine-tuned, and the courtroom becomes a stage for quick thinking performance. The trial performances, however, must follow real courtroom guidelines, and they are overseen by lawyers, judges, and clerks at the Doylestown Courthouse.