Penn High School takes home its first state Mock Trial trophy

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Soon after the Penn High School Mock Trial team was crowned the 2014 state champions, the congratulatory messages on Twitter and other social media began. The students were praised and called an "inspiration." Penn secured its first Indiana Mock Trial championship by defeating long-reigning state champion, John Adams High School of South Bend.

Penn was one of 18 student teams that tested their legal skills at the Indiana State High School Mock Trial Competition last weekend. The snow storm predicted for Sunday forced tournament organizers to scrap the fourth round of the competition and move straight to the championship.

The 2014 event also marked another milestone in the history of Indiana Mock Trial. This was the last year that Lafayette attorney Susan Roberts and a team of volunteers ran the competition. Moving forward, the Indiana Bar Foundation will assume the responsibility for the program.

Roberts, who has volunteered for mock trial and written the cases students use at trial for 24 years, said she was very enthusiastic about the IBF taking over the competition. She is hopeful the foundation will be able to expand the program especially into the southern part of the state.

For her long service to mock trial, Roberts was honored and given a standing ovation during the closing ceremonies. Roberts said watching the students develop poise, public-speaking skills and the ability to think on their feet through their experience with mock trial has been very rewarding. She has been astounded by how the students have brought the cases she writes to life and transformed her characters into real people.

“The fact you have given someone purpose or changed their life, it’s very rewarding,” Roberts said.

Penn High School, in Mishawaka, has regularly competed in the mock trial tournament and finished as runner up. Since 2001, a team from John Adams High School has won the state competition. In 2014, Adams fell just short, coming in second behind Penn.

Roberts gave special credit to the Penn students who had to be very disciplined and focused in their practices. Their coach, Kristen Rodriguez, was based in Chicago and worked with the student via Skype weekdays then traveled to Mishawaka on the weekends.

Penn will compete in the National Mock Trial Competition May 8 – 10 in Madison, Wis. Roberts has agreed to delay her retirement to Florida to help prepare the students.




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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues