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Trial competition ends for Westford Academy

March 26, 2009
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Westford Academy fell to Sharon High School on Monday in the semifinal elimination round of the Massachusetts Bar Association's 2009 Mock Trial Program. Sharon and Maimonides School of Brookline, which beat Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter School of South Hadley, now compete for the state championship.

The competition began in January with more than 100 high schools across the state, including 14 in the area.

Tomorrow at 10 a.m. the two schools will for the final time try a murder case in which the defendant, a military veteran, is using posttraumatic stress disorder as an insanity defense in the killing of a former classmate at a fireworks display. A coin toss will determine which school will be responsible for the prosecution and which will handle the defense. The trial takes place in Faneuil Hall.

The Massachusetts Bar Association, with a grant from the law firm of Brown, Rudnick, Berlack, Israels LLP, provides the schools with trial information and affidavits from witnesses, experts, and the defendant.

The teams, coached by a teacher and often a local lawyer, prepare to present either side of the case when they go into the courtroom. The trial judge scores the teams on the presentation of the material and their legal argument of the case.

At Monday's trials, both defense teams won their cases, with Sharon High School outscoring Westford Academy's prosecution at the John J. Moakley Courthouse in Boston, while Maimonides beat Pioneer Valley's prosecution at Worcester Superior Court.

The winners of tomorrow's championship trials go on to represent Massachusetts in a national competition in Atlanta in May.

TERRY BYRNE

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