Kentucky Court of Justice
Laurel County students to become certified Teen Court members at swearing-in ceremony Nov. 1
FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Thirty-five Laurel County students who have completed Teen Court training will be sworn in as officers of their county court Tuesday, Nov. 1. District Court Judge John Paul Chappell, who serves Knox and Laurel counties and oversees the local Teen Court program, will perform the ceremony. The event will take place at 5:30 p.m. EDT in Courtroom 202 on the second floor of the Laurel County Judicial Center, which is located at 305 S. Main St. in London. The public is invited to attend the ceremony.
Court designated workers Sarah Hillard and Amanda Krahenbuhl and attorney Deaidra Douglas of the state’s Department of Public Advocacy are the coordinators for the Laurel County Teen Court program. Douglas is based in the DPA’s London office.
Teen Court programs operate from September through May to coincide with the school calendar. Although a district judge presides over Teen Court, it is operated almost entirely by teenagers ranging in age from 13 to 17.
“Teen Court uses peer pressure in a positive way for nonviolent juvenile offenders,” said Billy Stover, coordinator for Kentucky Teen Court. “We’ve found that peer pressure in a court of law has a profound impact on a juvenile offender and is very effective at deterring juveniles from committing other crimes.”
The Administrative Office of the Courts started Teen Court in 1992 as one of its many law-related education programs. Teen Court has since expanded to 26 programs operating in 32 counties across Kentucky. More than 15,000 students have participated in the program since its inception.
Teen Court programs are made up of student volunteers who have completed five training sessions in courtroom roles such as prosecutor, defense attorney, court clerk, bailiff and juror. All student volunteers take an oath of confidentiality to protect the privacy of the defendants who appear before them. After being found guilty in District Court, the district judge has the option to refer defendants to Teen Court for sentencing. Teen jurors review the facts of the case and hear testimony before recommending a punishment. Often the juvenile defendant will speak on his or her own behalf and apologize for the crime.
Teen Court programs have imposed stiff penalties of up to 80 hours of community service, but more common sentences include lesser amounts of community service, letters of apology, counseling sessions and Teen Court jury duty. Teen Court sentences are legally binding and defendants must complete their sentences within six months or face being sent back to District Court.
For more information, contact Billy Stover at 502-595-0036.
The AOC in Frankfort is the operations arm for the state court system. The AOC supports the activities of nearly 3,300 court system employees and 403 elected justices, judges and circuit court clerks. As the fiscal agent for the state court system, the AOC executes the Judicial Branch budget.