Malden Catholic High School (MC) was recently named winner of the Massachusetts Bar Association’s 36th annual high school 2022 Mock Trial Tournament State Finals. MC prevailed against Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School in South Hadley (PVPA) at the State Finals Trial, which was conducted virtually. This is Malden Catholic’s first Mock Trial state championship.
Next up for MC is the National High School Mock Trial Championship – which will also be conducted virtually – from May 5–7.
Ninety-five high schools from around Massachusetts competed in the 2022 Mock Trial Program, which placed high school teams from across the state in simulated courtroom situations where they assumed the roles of lawyers, defendants and witnesses in hypothetical cases. From January through March, the teams competed in over 150 trials using a virtual format.
This year the teams at the State Finals Trial were presented with a criminal case using the following scenario: On Nov. 29, 2019, Alex MacArthur, Katherine Denger and Clarke Painter drove to Leo’s Convenience Store for the alleged purpose of collecting an alleged debt that one of the store employees, Hank Isselback, owed to Painter. Gunplay ensued and Isselback’s sibling, Daniel, was fatally shot by MacArthur, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and is awaiting sentencing. Denger has been charged with accessory to murder and is awaiting trial. In this case, the defendant, Painter, is charged with first-degree felony murder for participating as joint venturer with MacArthur and Denger in the commission or attempted commission of the predicate felony of armed robbery, which resulted in the death of Daniel Isselback. MC played the role of the defense in the State Finals Trial, and PVPA played the role of the prosecution.
Before the championship round commenced, Massachusetts Bar Association President Thomas Bond welcomed the teams and spoke to the students about how participating in Mock Trial will benefit them in their future careers. “No matter what job or business you’re in, or what career, if you can understand a subject and get up and teach it, it’s going to be so helpful to be able to convince and persuade. That’s what any job requires you to do,” Bond said. “To think on your feet, to see both sides of an argument, these are great transferable skills, and you got a great start here.”
The state championship was judged by a three-member panel (a presiding judge and two scoring judges), like the process used at the national mock trial competition. This year’s judging panel comprised Hon. Peter Lauriat (Ret.) of the Massachusetts Superior Court as the presiding judge, Hon. Bonnie MacLeod (Ret.) of the Massachusetts Superior Court as a scoring judge and Attorney Paul Klehm, a partner at Krasnoo, Klehm & Falkner LLP in Andover, as a scoring judge. Nearly 80 lawyers and judges across the state also volunteered as coaches and judges this year.