Crossland High School has won the Maryland State High School Mock Trial championship by defeating Montgomery County's Thomas S. Wootton High, giving Prince George's County its second straight championship in the competition.

Crossland's team will compete against the New York State champion in U.S. District Court in Manhattan later this month.

The competition, in its third year in Maryland, pits high school teams against each other in courtroom arguments that they act out before lawyers or judges, who then rate their performances. Students take on roles as witnesses, prosecutors and defense attorneys.

The competition is sponsored by the Maryland State Bar Association and the Judicial Conference Public Awareness Committee.

"The key thing is to give them an opportunity to think on their feet," said Robert W. Turner, coach of the mock trial team and social studies coordinator at Crossland.

All Maryland teams argue the same case throughout the competition. This year the question dealt with a motion to suppress evidence gained in an arrest before a defendant was advised of his rights.

The state championship took place Thursday in the Maryland Court of Appeals in Annapolis before Prince George's Circuit Court Judge G.R. Hovey Johnson. Crossland beat Wootton by only 0.6 point.

Last year, High Point High School defeated Old Mill High School in Anne Arundel County.

Sixteen teams from Prince George's County participated in the competition this year, 15 from public schools and one from Pallotti High School in Laurel.

Members of the winning team are seniors Joan West, John Thomas, Cathleen Gillen, Michael Bugg and Earle Bannister and junior Ken Kutsch. Advising the team were Prince George's lawyers Arnold Popkin and Gerald Lawson.