Teen Court
Posted On:
Friday, August 28, 2015
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                                                          Teen Court

by

Karla Riddle

 

 On Thursday, August 27, 2015, I, Karla Riddle, got sworn into a program called Teen Court. I was recognized by Alabama Center for Law and Civic Education, Family Court of Jefferson County, Junior League of Birmingham, The Service League, Bessemer Bar Association, and ACLCE, for successfully completing regular officer training, as well as attorney training. Teen Court is a judicial program made up of teens ages 13-18 who volunteer the first Tuesday or Thursday of each month to helping their community as well as their peers to receive community service hours. We represent juvenile offenders and help them have a second chance. If an offender gets in trouble for a misdemeanor (petty crime) they may have the option to have their trial by teen court. By doing this they have already plead guilty so my job is not to prove whether their innocent or guilty, but to prove whether they should have a lesser or harsher sentence, depending which side I’m representing for the case. We take into consideration the situation and circumstances of not only the case but the defendant’s life as well. We help the defendants who come through Teen Court, so when we hand down a sentence it is to help them get on the right track. We are NOT here to punish anyone. Most importantly we keep all cases confidential so what happens in a Teen Court stays in the courtroom.                                                                          

I first heard about Teen Court early May of this year. The coordinator came to my school and had an interest meeting. She explained to us what Teen Court was about and how to get into Teen Court. What I had to do to get in was first to sign up for a division (Bessemer or Birmingham), fill out the form that she gave me (which you can also find online), and turned it in. Next I had to email her and request a time and date to interview out of the options she gave us. I had to wait about two weeks to interview. When I got to the interview she asked me about my morals, values, why I should be in Teen Court, and what I could contribute to the program. After my interview, I had to wait about 3 weeks to receive my acceptance letter. But I still wasn’t done, I still had to go through my acceptance process and then my training which was mandatory. When I received my letter I was told to sign up 4 months out of 10 to participate and sign an agreement saying yes I agree to join. After they received my letter back I had to attend three weeks of training. Two for officer and one for the attorney. Once I successfully completed training (yes you can fail) I was sworn by the various organizations involved. My first trial date is September 3 and for my first trial I will be a juror. If you would ever be interested in joining, just ask me and I will keep you posted.

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