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Central New York students set to argue their (mock) cases

A felony assault case against P.J. Long will be argued numerous times in courtrooms this winter during the New York State Mock Trial competition.

Mock trial teams across the state — including Oswego, Onondaga and Oneida counties — have begun learning the nuances of the case and setting up their defenses and prosecutions before competition begins this month.

In Oswego County, five schools are participating. In Onondaga County, students from 18 schools are on mock trials teams.

Teams compete against each other for county honors in January and February. Regional tournaments are in March and April and state finals are May 21 and 22.

The 2010-‘11 state winner was Schenectady LEAH Homeschool Team. Central New York is in Region 2, which includes Broome, Chenango, Chemung, Cortland, Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida, Oswego, Onondaga and Tioga counties.

Onondaga County teams are: Fayetteville-Manlius, Bishop Ludden, Skaneateles, East Syracuse Minoa, Nottingham, Cazenovia, Christian Brothers Academy, Tully, Jamesville-DeWitt, Fabius-Pompey, Marcellus, Cortland, Westhill, Chittenango, Jordan-Elbridge, Liverpool, LaFayette and Manlius Pebble Hill.

Oswego County teams are: Paul V. Moore High in Central Square, G. Ray Bodley High in Fulton, John C. Birdlebough High in Phoenix, Sandy Creek and Mexico.

Mock trial competition is in its 31st year and is sponsored by the state bar association’s Committee on Law, Youth and Citizenship and The New York Bar Foundation.

The case this year involves P.J. Long, 22, of Pew Gardens, Queens, who is charged with second-degree assault for hitting Dana Malone with a tire iron outside an establishment called The Joint.

In Oswego County, high schools participated in a mock trial program from 1993 to 2003, but then interest in the program waned and the program stopped. The program took off again in the 2006-07 school year.

Sandy Creek, which won the first year of competition, also took top honors in 2006-‘07 and 2007-‘08. Central Square won in 2009 and 2011 and G. Ray Bodley High won in 2010.

The case and all materials, such as affidavits and witness statements, are written by New York Bar Association lawyers. Students must memorize all facts and details from the documents to present their cases. Students from around the state compete in local competitions, with winning teams advancing to regional playoffs and a state final.