Kentucky Court of Justice
Students from Madison County to become certified members of Teen Court at swearing-in ceremony Oct. 27
FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Fifty students from Madison County who have completed Teen Court training will be sworn in as officers of their county court by Chief District Judge William G. Clouse Jr., who serves Clark and Madison counties. The swearing-in ceremony is open to the public and will take place Monday, Oct. 27, at 6 p.m. at the Madison County Hall of Justice, 351 W. Main St., Richmond.
Teen Courts operate from September through May to coincide with the school calendar. Judge Clouse oversees the program, which is coordinated by Jennifer L. Webb.
Although a district judge presides over Teen Court, it is operated almost entirely by teenagers, who range in age from 13 to 17. “Teen Court uses peer pressure in a positive way for nonviolent juvenile offenders,” said Billy Stover, the 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.”
Stover said that the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) 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 Teen Court since its inception.
Teen Courts are made up of student volunteers who have completed five training sessions in courtroom roles such as prosecutors, defense attorneys, court clerks, bailiffs and jurors. 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 Courts have been known to impose stiff penalties of up to 80 hours of community service. More common sentences include lesser amounts of community service, letters of apology, counseling sessions and serving on 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 or 502-573-2350.
The AOC supports the activities of more than 4,000 Kentucky Court of Justice employees, including the elected justices, judges and circuit court clerks, and executes the Judicial Branch budget.