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South Bend school wins national competition; 2013 event to be in Indiana

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For the second time in three years, South Bend’s John Adams High School won the annual National High School Mock Trial Championship.

In the competition, students are given a fictitious case to try before a jury. Each team plays the roles of attorneys and witnesses, performing all functions of a jury trial in 2.5 hours. This year’s case involved a complex land dispute between an American Indian tribe and a uranium mining company.

The competition included teams from 48 states and territories, and teams from South Korea and Australia. John Adams High School has placed in the top 10 teams nationally nine times in the past 10 years, earning widespread recognition for the strength of its mock trial program. At this year’s competition in Phoenix May 5 - 7, the national organization chose Indiana as the site of the 2013 competition.

Ann Marie Waldron, attorney at Indianapolis firm Robinson Wolenty & Young, is the host coordinator for the 2013 tournament. “We look forward to showcasing our program to the students from across the U.S. and other countries and are planning to ‘wow’ them in 2013,” she said.

Indiana’s mock trial program is run entirely by volunteers like Waldron. The South Bend team is coached by John Scanlan, professor emeritus for Indiana University Maurer School of Law; attorneys Erin Linder and Andrew Jones; drama coach Lucas Burkett; and teacher Heath Weaver. The volunteer board includes Penn High School Principal Steven Hope; Waldron; Susan Roberts, partner with the Lafayette firm Stuart & Branigin and state coordinator for the Indiana High School Mock Trial competition; Scott Keller of Anderson Agostino & Keller in South Bend; and Peter Horvath, student services program director at Notre Dame Law School.

Waldron said about 400 judges and attorney volunteers will be needed to staff the national competition in 2013.

The national mock trial championship began in 1984 in Des Moines, Iowa, with teams from Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin participating. After the success of the tournament in Iowa, more states became interested in participating, and the tournament became billed as an "All-State" tournament.

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