The 21st North Carolina Teen Court Association Summit brought out 140 students and 60 volunteers, chaperones and coordinators, during an event in Raleigh on April 12-14. On Friday night, the event started with the teen participants attending a diversity workshop. On Saturday morning, 13 counties competed in a series of mock trials, with teens showing off their courtroom skills.
During lunch, Jeffrey Robinson led an interactive workshop titled “Drugs and Reality-based Training.” After dinner Saturday night, the traditional Teen Court Summit Dance was held. After Sunday breakfast, Chris Suggs, a student at UNC, spoke on making a difference through community involvement.
During the awards presentations that followed, Person County was fortunate to have two of its students receive recognition: Courtney Paylor was named Outstanding Prosecutor, while Tiffani Hargrove was tabbed Outstanding Witness.
Teen Court is a diversion program funded by the local Juvenile Crime Prevention Council and Department of Juvenile Justice. Youth who get in trouble at school or in the community can be referred to Teen Court in lieu of appearing in juvenile court. Teen volunteers fill the roles of prosecutor, defense attorney, clerk and bailiff. Offenders must plead guilty to the charges. The jury, also composed of teens who have offended in the past, decides the sentences, which include serving as a juror on future cases, community service and, often, a letter of apology or an essay on their future.