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AHS Palm Beach Campus Pre-Law Program Wins 2022 Florida State High School Mock Trial Competition

Updated: May 18, 2022

The prestigious American Heritage Schools’ Palm Beach Campus Mock Trial Team was named State Champions of the 2022 Florida High School Mock Trial Competition. Madison Smith, a junior at American Heritage Schools, also earned the prestigious Top Attorney award.

The 16 schools in the finals represented 16 Circuits from the 20 Judicial Circuits in Florida. The team competed in four preliminary rounds, then qualified for the fifth and final round. Led by attorney coaches, Ani Porter, Kelly Harris, and Adam McMichael, American Heritage Schools’ Palm Beach Campus Mock Trial team was the only team to have won all of the rounds during the entire tournament.

The Florida High School Mock Trial Program was designed in 1991 by Annette Boyd Pitts and former Florida Bar Executive Director, Marshall Cassedy. Hundreds of student participants have graduated, attended law school, and become members of the Florida Bar or other state bar associations. In the program, students learn critical thinking skills, legal reasoning, analysis, and professionalism, in addition to the structure and function of the courts and the legal process.

“We value preparation, discipline, and team harmony,” said attorney Ani Porter, Pre-Law Program Director, Palm Beach Campus. “It is our priority to foster a healthy, productive, fun and ethical learning environment for our students, whom we envision will be future leaders of our country.”

American Heritage Schools’ Pre-Law team also earned yet another first-place ranking at a nationwide competition and a new title, 2022 Yale University Moot Champions, due to the brilliant teamwork of senior, Sara Shim, and junior, Rebeca Lopez-Anzures. The Shim/Lopez-Anzures team showed poise, confidence, and superior understanding of complex constitutional issues. In the Championship round, they outperformed their tough opponents, and last year’s champions, from the Boston Latin School to claim the 2022 Yale University Moot Court Championship title.

Ninth-grade duo Katherine Chaffee and Kayli Harris, rising stars and first-time Moot Court competitors, placed fourth in the same competition after putting forth an incredibly strong performance. Additionally Jonah Samara earned seventh place and Lindsay Brauner eighth place, both in the Top Attorney category.

During the same weekend of the Yale Moot Court Competition, another five teams competed at the 2022 Princeton Moot Court Competition, a highly competitive competition which this year focused on the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. All five teams made it past the four preliminary rounds. The 9th grade team, Sophia Reynoso and Maia Merkel-Leavitt, outperformed their peers and placed top 8 in the entire competition. 9th grade student, Sophia Reynoso, and 10th grade student, Pooja Gudoor, earned individual top attorneys awards.

American Heritage Schools’ Pre-Law program is a 4-year honors program taught exclusively by practicing attorneys and judges. Each year students take unique law school level courses that no other high school offers, such as Trial Advocacy, Constitutional Law, Homicide Law, and Criminal Law. The program culminates in a senior year internship when students experience the practice of law in real life. Seniors leave campus a few times per week to rotate through different law firms, agencies, offices, and courtrooms throughout South Florida. They also visit judges in Circuit Court, the County Sheriff's Office, the State Attorney's Office, the Public Defender’s Office, and the United States Attorney’s office. The connections that the seniors make with practicing judges and attorneys are invaluable and often result in future law school acceptances and employment.

American Heritage is the top private school in the nation in Mock Trial and Moot Court competitions. The Palm Beach Campus Pre-Law Program also received first place at Denver’s Mock Trial Competition in October 2021. Practicing veteran criminal attorneys and judges coach the middle school Mock Trial/Moot Court and High School Mock Trial/Moot Court students.

For more information about American Heritage Schools’ Pre-Law program, please visit

By ML Staff. Images courtesy of American Heritage Schools


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