Kentucky Court of Justice
Students from Woodford County to become certified Teen Court members at swearing-in ceremony Oct. 25
FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Thirty-five students from Woodford County who have completed Teen Court training will be sworn in as officers of their county court by District Judge Vanessa M. Dickson, who serves Bourbon, Scott and Woodford counties. The swearing-in ceremony will take place at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 25, at the Woodford County Judicial Annex, 130 Court St. in Versailles. The ceremony will be open to the public.
Teen Court programs operate from September through May to coincide with the school calendar. Judge Dickson oversees the local program and Miriam Wagner coordinates it.
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 the AOC in Frankfort at 800-928-2350.
The Administrative Office of the Courts is the operations arm of the Kentucky Court of Justice and supports the activities of approximately 3,400 court system employees and 403 elected justices, judges and circuit court clerks. As the fiscal agent for the state court system, the AOC prepares a biennial budget draft and executes the Judicial Branch budget.