Summit County Juvenile Court has volunteer opportunities available for county high school students interested in participating in its Teen Court program. The volunteers will be trained on how to follow courtroom procedures and the principles of restorative justice. Upon completion of the training, the volunteers will be part of an actual Court hearing by serving in the roles of defense attorney, prosecuting attorney and jurors. Members of the Akron Bar Association and the Summit Prosecutor's Office mentor the teen attorneys.
All cases referred to Teen Court will involve youth facing lower-level misdemeanor charges in which the youth has already entered an admission to the charge and has agreed to have the Teen Court decide the appropriate disposition. Both sides will present their cases and the jury will deliberate to decide what sanction the youth will receive. Teen Court is a diversion program, so if the youth successfully completes the terms of the disposition rendered by the jury, the charge against him or her will be dismissed.
Teen Court hearings are conducted twice a month, usually on Thursdays, beginning at 4:30 p.m. Many schools allow students to count the time spent volunteering on Teen Court toward their community service hours. Applications can be accessed on the Juvenile Court website at www.co.summit.oh.us. Click Courts, then, click on the "General Information" tab and click the "Forms" option on the drop-down list. To open the application page, click on the Teen Court/High School Advisory Board option. The form can be completed online and downloaded.
"I think this will be a valuable learning experience for everyone who has chosen to be involved in Teen Court," said Judge Linda Tucci Teodosio. "It holds a youth accountable for making a poor choice and I also believe that Teen Court can instill a greater understanding of how the juvenile justice system works."