The Ceremonial Courtroom of Old Erie County Hall was the backdrop Wednesday for a mock trial that featured students from two high schools on Main Street in Amherst.
In the end, the judge presiding over the case, State Supreme Court Justice Henry J. Nowak, ruled that Sacred Heart Academy had won the 2011 Erie County High School Mock Trial Championship Tournament, defeating Amherst High School.
"About five minutes into the competition, I forgot they were high school students," Nowak said.
"The effort and dedication that went into this competition was remarkable, and it was an honor to see our future leaders of the legal community in action," he added.
The two top contenders emerged after competing against teams from Clarence, Holy Angels, Williamsville North, Frontier and Orchard Park in the quarterfinals last Saturday. The competition has been sponsored by the Erie County Bar Association since 1981.
"It was close, but the 'battle of Main Street' went to the young ladies," said William P. Moore of Lipsitz, Green, Scime, Cambria.
Moore is chairman of the Bar Association's Young Lawyers Committee, which oversees the mock trials.
The hypothetical case the students argued for the championship involved a high school student who filed a lawsuit against a fictional village and its trustees for amending a parking law that the student claimed was a violation of his right to due process.
The team from Amherst represented the student and the team from Sacred Heart defended the village.
The champions were coached by attorney Michael A. Brady of Hagerty & Brady, along with his wife Nancy Brady, a teacher at Sacred Heart.
The team from Amherst was coached by Erie County Assistant District Attorney Kelley Omel and teacher Mary Ellen J. Goergen.
The Sacred Heart team will compete in a regional championship, Moore said.
Team members include: Sacred Heart: Hillary Chiarella, Maggie McGuire, Sarah Whittington, Emily Ludwig, Meredith McCaffrey, Katherine Rivard, Megan Elman, Meredith McCaffrey, Clara Wu, Hillary Chiarella, Elizabeth Feeley, Anna Huebschmann, Emily Anderson, Elizabeth Anderson, Robin Graziano, Sarah Militello and Colleen Mroz.
Amherst: Zachary Garlick, Philip Duggan, Peter Roach, Russell Braun, Christopher Kirkland, Patrick Murray, Jane Edgington, Michal Shalman, Ashley Zelasko-Cannon, Gabrielle Montalbano and Gregeory Gaglione.