Teenagers give the final verdict at Teen Court

By Maddy Flax, Staff Writer

For most CHS students, a typical Wednesday consists of waking up and going to school, maybe going to an extracurricular activity, and then going home to do homework. However, sophomore Alex Fox’s Wednesday afternoon is much different, because after school, she attends Teen Court.

Teen Court, which was started 13 years ago by former state attorney Andrew Sonner, gives Montgomery County students the opportunity to sit on a jury for cases against first-time juvenile offenders who may have committed a lower level crime. The cases are brought before a real judge and the students decide the consequences for the crimes. There are 1,100 Teen Courts throughout the country; 12 of them are located in Maryland with Montgomery County being the first one to have been established.

“I started going to Teen Court around a year and a half ago after my brother started going,” Fox said. “I was really interested in the Montgomery County judicial system and it was a fun way to learn more about it.”

Student volunteers from grades 9-12 receive Student Service Learning hours to participate in Teen Court and every Wednesday, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., are trained to participate as youth attorneys, jurors, clerks and bailiffs. The judges volunteer and come from circuit, district, and special appeals courts.

Junior Joe Milone participates in Teen Court because of his desire to contribute to society and learn about how the law works.

“I like give my opinion to society and have a voice,” Milone said. “Teen Court is a fun way to share my thoughts and learn cool things about the law at the same time.”

Teen Court also gives students the opportunity to work on their leadership and speaking skills. They discover the importance of civic duty and responsibility while learning about the inner workings of the Montgomery County judicial system. Teen Court also educates today’s youth about teen crime and about the importance of holding people accountable for their actions.

“Teen Court gives students an opportunity to ‘right the ship,’ learn from mistakes and be accountable to peers and society for their actions,” Teen Court coordinator Georgine DeBord said.

For more information on Teen Court, visit http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov.