Mock trial jury finds for plaintiffs in student’s death

Editor’s note: This story is about a mock trial held by Central Penn’s legal studies program for a fictitious U.S. civil-liability case. No one died. The names of witnesses and lawyers (except for people playing those roles) or any institution other than Central Penn College in the story are fictitious, and any similarity to any other people or institution is coincidental.

Young man with beard. smiling

By Andrew Hunter

Knightly News Reporter

The Central Penn legal-studies program held its annual mock trial in the courtroom in Bollinger Hall on Dec. 12, reenacting a fictitious 1997 Pennsylvania Bar Association case that involved a lawsuit filed by the parents of Frank Marshall, a student who was killed in an accidental fire started by another student, David Dougherty.

In the mock-trial case, the issue at hand was civil liability to determine whether Priestley College was liable for Marshall’s on-campus death. While the facts of the arson against Dougherty were not in dispute during this trial because that case was already adjudicated in a criminal proceeding, this civil case was to determine whether Priestley College was liable for Marshall’s death.

Previously, mock trials in this course have examined the infamous case of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, focusing on the perspective of New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison. Garrison was convinced of a conspiracy behind Kennedy’s assassination, firmly believing that Lee Harvey Oswald was not the sole perpetrator.

The mock trial allowed daytime and evening students to put what they learned in Professor Robert Donley’s civil litigation II course into action and to experience what a trial is like.

At the beginning of the mock trial Donley outlined to a courtroom with over 25 students, faculty and staff the immense amount of effort students in the class put into this mock trial. Donley noted that it takes nearly a term to prepare for and plan this event.

The trial involved Priestley College and student Frank Marshall’s parents. The college was the defense, which the evening students played, and the daytime students played the prosecution. Donley served as judge.

The prosecution and who played the roles

Witness Maxine Planck: Amber Funk (legal studies student, but not a student in the class)

Direct examination: Ashaun-John Harris

Cross-examination: Tara Keller

Witness Roberta Boyle: Margaret Schachte (Central Penn library director)

Direct examination: Zhanaya Whitaker

Cross-examination: Evelyn DeJesus

Witness Jaye Jordan: Kathryn Wyrick (not a Central Penn student)

Direct examination: Justin Lachnit

Cross-examination: Thanayi Ruth

The defense and who played the roles

Witness Dean Nellie Bohr: Edna Santiago-Quirindongo

Direct examination: John Young

Cross-examination: Zhanaya Whitaker

Witness Terry Mendoza: Victoria Kitt

Direct examination: Patricia Brown

Cross-examination: Justin Lachnit

Witness Harry Hall: John Young

Direct examination: Rose Jean Pierre

Cross-examination: Zhanaya Whitaker

The jury hears the case. Photo by Paul Miller

In the end

At the conclusion of the two-and-a-half-hour trial, the jury was asked for its verdict. After discussion, jurors found Priestley College liable for the actions that occurred that resulted in Marshall’s death.

“I think the trial went pretty well,” criminal justice student Amber Funk said. “It displayed what we have been working on for the whole course. It seemed like everyone was very prepared.”

Case files from this specific mock trial can be found on the Pennsylvania Bar Association website.

If you have any questions about the mock trial, contact Donley at

Comments or story idea? Contact KnightlyEditors@CentralPenn.Edu.

Edited by media-club co-advisers Professor Paul Miller and Professor Michael Lear-Olimpi.