Annual Intensive Trial Advocacy Program Teaches Valuable Trial Skills
Web Editor - Published: May 14, 2013
CoedAttorneyHuddleWith final exams coming to a close, students looking to sharpen the advocacy skills essential for trial work will participate in the Intensive Trial Advocacy Program (ITAP) on both the Harrisburg and Delaware campuses.

The seven-day legal “boot camp” brings in judges, attorneys and legal academics from around the country to both Widener Law campuses, where they share their trial expertise and experience with students. The program runs from May 16th through May 23rd on the Delaware campus under the direction of Professor John Nivala and from the 17th through the 24th on the Harrisburg campus under the direction of Associate Professor J. Palmer Lockard II.

In addition to the detailed and valuable insights provided by the experienced faculty, students in the course take part in a special “expert witness day” that permits them to work with actual expert witnesses. The program concludes with a simulated jury trial that allows the students to demonstrate what they’ve learned.

Students in ITAP are also treated to the annual E. John Wherry, Jr. Distinguished Lecture in Trial Advocacy and Professionalism. The Harrisburg campus will welcome back distinguished 2007 graduate Christopher F. Schellhorn, Jr., an Assistant Prosecutor for the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office in New Jersey, who will speak on Saturday, May 18th at 4:00 p.m. Pennsylvania Innocence Project Legal Director Marissa Boyers Bluestine will deliver the lecture on the Delaware campus on Wednesday, May 22nd at 4:00 p.m.

Schellhorn is assigned to the Trial Team section in the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and is responsible for engaging in plea negotiations, Grand Jury presentations, and arguing both pre-trial and post-trial motions. He has worked numerous burglary, robbery, drug, and assault cases and served as second chair in the “Rutgers Cyber-bullying Trial” State v. Dharun Ravi. He previously worked for two and a half years as an Assistant District Attorney in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. While at Widener Law, Chris served on the Executive Board of the Trial Advocacy Honor Society as Vice President, was a finalist in the Hugh B. Pearce Trial Competition as a 2nd year student, and received the 2007 E. John Wherry Jr. Trial Advocacy Award for his interest and achievement in trial advocacy.

Marissa Boyers Bluestine previously served as a litigation associate at Duane Morris and as an Assistant Defender with the Defender Association of Philadelphia for over 10 years prior to joining the Pennsylvania Innocence Project as Legal Director in 2009. She is a graduate of Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut and a cum laude graduate of Temple University School of Law, where she served as Managing Editor of the Temple Political & Civil Rights Law Review.