KILLEEN, TX — Juvenile courts are designed to hold young offenders accountable, but the Killeen Municipal Court is taking it a step further to ensure they are reaching teens in need.
“This program allows them to learn from their mistakes so that they can prove to be successful and do everything that the court asks them to do,” said Joseph Sturgeon, Juvenile Case Manager.
Teen court gives young offenders an opportunity to learn more about the judicial system first-hand. During the punishment phase, defendants are represented by a volunteer student attorney who makes a case to a jury of their peers.
“Since I started doing this, [my] public speaking has definitely increased a lot,” said Caden Emilson, volunteer student attorney.
The program is looking to recruit more volunteer student attorneys to help the program grow. The Killeen Municipal Court is holding a training at the courthouse from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“We have real good attorneys, we can always use more,” said Judge Mark Kimball.
Teens will be trained by judges, attorneys and court staff to represent juvenile defendants. Students can engage invaluable skills like critical thinking, debate, and public speaking. Upon completion of training, students can serve in the teen court system as much as they like.
“This program allows them to learn from their mistakes so that they can prove to be successful and do everything that the court asks them to do.
Court staff will serve as mentors for all participants.
“They take a lot of time to come in and really talk to the juveniles that are here for their punishment but also mentor the volunteer student attorneys, which is really an important aspect,” said Luevada Posey, Executive Director of Municipal Court.
As an added perk, judges and attorneys have written college letters for participants.
“I want this to expand as much as possible so that every kid has a chance to do something totally different than they ever thought of doing, and start thinking a little differently maybe than they ever did,” said Judge Kimball.