Leonardtown, MD – The St. Mary’s County Teen Court Program was selected by Global Youth Justice, Inc., to join representatives from Baltimore City Teen Court to participate in their reenactment of a school bullying case at a plenary session of the Annual Fall Institute of the Criminal Justice Section of the American Bar Association (ABA) Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, in Washington, DC. The purpose was to provide a demonstration of the effectiveness of the Teen Court Program as a juvenile diversion in lieu of offenders being sent through the formal juvenile justice system.
Nine St. Mary’s County Teen Court student volunteers attended, accompanied by their parents, Teen Court Community Judge Charlottis Woodley, and Teen Court Coordinator Gregory Jones. They were joined by five Teen Court student volunteers from Baltimore City. St. Mary’s participants served as the prosecutor, defense counsel, offender, victim, bailiff and jury members. St. Mary’s Community Judge Woodley was asked to be the presiding judge.
“These teen volunteers were absolutely outstanding. They were confident with what they were doing despite the audience of senior legal officials and the livestreaming to hundreds of viewers. It is my honor to have these dedicated young people as part of our program and am so proud of all of them,” Jones said.
The session ran overtime due to the questions the ABA participants were asking. The teen volunteers had no reservations with answering the questions themselves, including individually introducing themselves and answering why they chose to volunteer during a reception following the reenactment.
This was an excellent experience for all involved in this event. The teen volunteers brought great credit and recognition to St. Mary’s County, the Teen Court Program, their schools, their parents, and of course themselves. Volunteers came from St. Mary’s Ryken High School, Kings Christian Academy, Leonardtown High School, Great Mills High School, and Spring Ridge Middle School.
Special thanks go to the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services, the St. Mary’s County District Court, the St. Mary’s County Public Schools, the St. Mary’s County Department of Aging & Human Services, and VVS Charters for their support in making this event a success.