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First News Winter 2006

Teen Justice
"All rise, Huerfano County Teen Court is still in session."
 

   Teen Court of Huerfano County is observing its ten-year anniversary! It was started in 1995 by Judge Claude Appel in an effort to reduce the number of juvenile crimes in Huerfano County and give students an opportunity to learn more about the justice system. Teen Court’s primary purpose is to teach respect for the law by applying positive peer pressure.
 
It’s thought that most juvenile offenders held accountable for their wrongdoing by jurors of their own age will be more inclined to comply with Teen Court sentences and remain law abiding in the future. Teen Court is real court with real consequences for juvenile offenders. Its focus is to repair the harm caused to victims and allow victims the opportunity to participate in the proceedings.

It currently operates in both district court with an adult judge model, and county court with a peer judge model. During its 10-year tenure, 133 juvenile offenders have been sentenced for offenses such as careless driving, possession of drugs and/or alcohol, and assault charges. Presently, Teen Court educates volunteer students from John Mall High School in Walsenburg with approximately two thirds of the school’s population participating as attorneys and jurors. Expansions are being considered in the La Veta schools again, and also in Trinidad.


Judge Claude Appel

  Michele George coordinates the program by providing some legal education and her practical experience to teen attorneys and those in training. Students must complete a minimum of 20 hours of education before taking the “Teen Court Bar Exam” and must also do continuing education throughout the school year. Ms. George successfully attained non-profit status for Teen Court in 2001 and operates the program on an $8,000 per year budget but welcomes tax-deductible donations. You can obtain more information about the program by contacting Michele. It’s Teen Court, justice for youth — by youth.


Michele George

 

Michele George
Teen Court of Huerfano County
Coordinator/Juvenile Specialist
401 Main Street, #304
Walsenburg, CO 81089
(719) 738-2378

 

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