Malden Catholic High School Wins Mass. Bar Association’s 2022 Mock Trial State Championship

Thursday, March 24, 2022
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Malden Catholic High School prevailed in the State Championship of the MBA's 36th Annual Statewide High School Mock Trial Competition.

Malden Catholic High School was named State Champion of the Massachusetts Bar Association’s 2022 High School Mock Trial Program on Friday, March 18. Malden Catholic prevailed against Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School in South Hadley (PVPA) at the 36th Annual Statewide High School Mock Trial Competition Finals, which was conducted virtually. The state title is Malden Catholic’s first Mock Trial state championship.

Next up for Malden Catholic is the National High School Mock Trial Championship, which will also be conducted virtually, May 5–7. 

Started in 1985, the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Mock Trial Program began its 36th year in January. Ninety-five (95) high schools from around Massachusetts competed in the 2022 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. The teams competed in over 150 trials using a virtual format from January through March.

This year, the teams 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, Dan/i, was fatally shot by MacArthur. MacArthur 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 their participation 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 Dan/i Isselback. Malden Catholic played the role of the defense in the finals, and PVPA played the role of the prosecution. 

The state championship was judged by a three-member panel (a presiding judge, and two scoring judges), similar to the process used at the national mock trial competition. This year’s judging panel included Hon. Peter M. Lauriat (Ret.), Massachusetts Superior Court, presiding judge; Hon. Bonnie MacLeod (Ret.), Massachusetts Superior Court, scoring judge; and Paul J. Klehm, Esq., partner at Krasnoo, Klehm & Falkner LLP in Andover, scoring judge.

Before the championship round commenced, MBA President Thomas M. 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 Mock Trial Program is administered by the Massachusetts Bar Association. Nearly 80 lawyers and judges across the state also volunteered as coaches and judges this year.