OSWEGO, NY – Nearly two dozen students from around the county are taking the first steps last week to becoming active members of the City-County Youth Court program.
The Oswego City-County Youth Bureau sponsored the week-long training classes, in the Council Chamber at City Hall.
“Youth Court hears real cases of youthful offenders who are referred by local law enforcement agencies or schools for first-time minor offenses,” explained Brian Chetney, county youth coordinator for the Youth Bureau.
Students are trained to become judges, defense attorneys, prosecuting attorneys and court clerks.
“Youth Court members conduct hearings related to their cases and decide on the outcome and punishment for each case,” Chetney said.
This group, he added, is among the youngest.
“There are a lot more younger students in this class than we normally have,” agreed Dawn Metott, city youth coordinator for the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau.
The program provides a valuable experience for its members, she added.
Youth Court is a Family Court diversion program aimed at reducing juvenile delinquency in the city and county of Oswego.
“In addition to the benefit of helping their communities and influencing their peers in a positive way, members of Youth Court will learn or improve their public speaking, interviewing and writing skills,” Metott said.
Justin Brower of Fulton said he is considering going into the legal field as a career.
“I’d like to be a lawyer and doing this is good experience. So I joined to learn all the stuff I can and learn how a real court works,” he said. “It is also good to have this kind of thing on your resume for college applications.”
They covered the different positions in the court and what each position does; what Youth Court is about and the laws they will be dealing with.
“It’s about keeping kids out of Family Court and keeping them on the right track,” noted Collin Morrison of Oswego. We are all from different school (districts) but we’re working as one group here.”
The best part of Youth Court, they both said, “is getting to meet all these people, making new friends.”
Oswego County Legislator Terry Wilbur, a former Youth Court judge, spoke to the class. Youth Officer Sue Goodman (Oswego Police Department) also talked to the group as did Family Court Magistrate Eben Norfleet.
Norfleet told the class that they won’t always win their case, no matter which side they are representing. That is why, he added, that it is very important that they know everything there is about each specific case that comes before them.
The group visited the Oswego County Public Safety Center, held mock hearings and toured of the Sheriff’s Department – all in preparation for the final exam.
For more information about the program, contact the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau at 349-3451 or 1-800-596-3200, ext 3451or e-mail [email protected]