Juvenile Justice

Law Students Train Teens to Staff Youth Court in Seattle Focused on Traffic Infractions

A youth traffic court staffed by 22 high school students in Seattle will begin hearing cases on March 26.

Seattle University law students have trained the teens to act as judges, prosecutors, defense lawyers, bailiffs, court clerks and jurors, the Seattle Times reports. Defendants will receive creative sentences; punishments could include writing an essay or apology or performing community service.

Teens who go before the court must admit their crime, agree to participate, and be under age 18. After the sentence is completed, teens will see their tickets dismissed, with no marks on their driving records.

Margaret Fisher, a co-director of the Seattle youth traffic court, wrote the ABA’s curriculum for youth courts in 2000, the story says. She tells the Seattle Times that youth courts “are the best way for young people to learn about fairness and justice.”

The number of youth courts in the country has risen from about 78 in 1994 to more than 1,000 today. Some focus on criminal cases and others on truancy, Fisher tells the newspaper.

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