What: Twenty-two local students who have completed Teen Court training will be sworn in as officers of the Shelby County Court by District Judge Linda S. Armstrong, who serves Anderson, Shelby and Spencer counties. The swearing-in ceremony will take place Monday, Dec. 11, 2006 at the Shelby County Courthouse in Shelbyville. The event is open to the public.
Who: District Judge Linda S. Armstrong
When: Monday, Dec. 11, 6:30 p.m.
Where: Shelby County Courthouse, Circuit Courtroom, 501 Main Street, Shelbyville
Background Information: A district judge presides over Teen Court, but it is operated almost entirely by teenagers, who range in age from 13 to 17.
Teen Court began in 1992 as one of many law-related programs offered by the Kentucky Court of Justice through its Department of Juvenile Services. Today, the Teen Court concept has been embraced throughout the state and operates in 35 Kentucky counties. More than 15,000 students have participated in the program 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 that 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 the Teen Court office at the AOC in Frankfort at 1-800-928-2350 or 502-573-2350.
The Administrative Office of the Courts is the operational arm of the Kentucky Court of Justice and supports the activities of more than 3,500 court system employees, including the elected offices of justices, judges and circuit court clerks. The AOC also executes the Judicial Branch budget.