Harrisburg Team Wins 21st Annual Hugh B. Pearce Trial Advocacy Competition
Harrisburg Web Correspondent and Web Editor - Published: April 3, 2010
Harrisburg students Alberto Rivera and Amanda Brown won the 21st Annual Hugh B. Pearce Trial Advocacy Competition held on March 31, 2010 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the Harrisburg campus.

Second-year students from the Delaware campus, Veronica M. McMahon and Melissa H. Paris, took on the role of the prosecution. Alberto Rivera and Amanda Brown, third-year students from the Harrisburg campus, took on the role of the defense.

The Harrisburg students represented a man, Pat “Harley” Sills, who was arrested for the Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Distribute. The Delaware students represented “Marshall City.” The students went through a full trial and each had opening statements, direct and cross-examination of the two witnesses, and closing arguments. The opening and closing arguments were each worth 20 points while the direct and cross prosecution of the witnesses were worth 15 points each.

The Honorable Malachy E. Mannion who was appointed on the Federal Bench as a United States Magistrate Judge for the Middle District of Pennsylvania on January 4, 2001 and reappointed in 2009, served as judge for the final round of the competition. He is a national lecturer in trial practice, evidence, discovery, legal writing and e-discovery.

The Hugh B. Pearce Trial Advocacy Competition is named in honor of former Widener Law student Hugh Bryan Pearce. He enrolled at Widener Law in August of 1987 and maintained a full course schedule while serving as a helicopter pilot with the Delaware National Guard. On June 17th, 1989 while performing maneuvers with the National Guard, Chief Warrant Officer Hugh B. Pearce and five others lost their lives when the UH-1 Iroquois they were flying crashed in dense fog shortly after midnight near Yarmouth, Massachusetts.

In the wake of Hugh’s death, Professor Thomas Reed and John Wherry, Esq., at the time an adjunct faculty member directing the Intensive Trial Advocacy Program, created a competition between the two best advocates in ITAP and the two best advocates from Professor Reed’s Advocacy concentration course. They named the competition in honor of Hugh, who Professor Reed called “an especially gifted student with a flair for advocacy.” The competition later evolved into a trial advocacy competition pitting a team of advocates selected from the Delaware campus by the Moe Levine Trial Advocacy Honor Society against a team from the Harrisburg campus selected by the Trial Advocacy Honor Society there.

Last year, to commemorate the 20th Hugh B. Pearce Trial Advocacy Competition, the school created a scholarship in honor of Hugh B. Pearce that benefits a rising second year student who has demonstrated academic achievement and a commitment to community or public service, as exemplified by Hugh's life.