Students throughout the region are getting an inside view of the judicial system in a mock trial competition with the Erie County Bar Association.

Two finalist teams from seven regional high schools were accompanied by attorney advisors to participate in a mock trial competition. The event moderators said the program gives students an inside view into the judicial system.

“They have to learn through the three witnesses and three attorneys and they have to learn the rules, the fact patterns all the exhibits. It’s a fairly thick packet. Plus, they have to learn the rules of evidence as they apply to a mock trial, as well as the rules of competition,” said Denise Pekelnicky, Region 2 District 2 coordinator of the Pennsylvania Bar Association Mock Trial Competition.

Students in the mock trial acted out a civil or criminal trial for the defense and prosecution against another team of the opposing side.

Trials were judged by the Erie County Bar Association practicing attorneys and judges. Those with the bar association said the mock trial is good practice for the students before they hit the ground running.

“These kids are phenomenal and some of the things we hear from our attorneys are, ‘wow, they make us look bad,'” Pekelnicky added. “It always looks great on a resume if they’re looking to go into the legal field. It’ll be great on any resume, and a lot of them go on to participate in mock trials in college, as well as law school.”

The winning team will advance to Harrisburg in May for the chance to represent the state at the national high school mock trial championship.

The Erie County Bar Association said that Northwestern High School won the team debate as the defense.