Teens interested in experiencing local government and law in action are encouraged to attend the Bellevue Youth Court open house on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 6:30 to 8 p.m., at City Hall, 450 110th Ave. NE.
The open house will include brief presentations from volunteers ages 12 to 18, who currently serve as jurors, advocates, and officers of the court. The presentation will be immediately followed by a real court case. The event is an opportunity for young people to connect with practicing lawyers and judges who will be on hand to provide information about the program.
The Bellevue Youth Court is a partnership of the City of Bellevue and King County. It was launched in 2008 to help reduce recidivism rates among juveniles who commit crimes in the Bellevue area. The court convenes monthly to hold two court cases each session.
The program provides a unique community service opportunity that engages youth in making real decisions in a real case. Teens serve as youth judges, jurors, bailiffs, clerks, and prosecuting and defense advocates (attorneys). Practicing attorneys serve as mentors and guide the defense and prosecution teams for each case. King County Superior Court judges Carol Schapira and Harry McCarthy oversee the Bellevue Youth Court project and court sessions.
Bellevue Youth Court respondents are referred for sentencing by King County Diversion Court. In order for a case to be sentenced by Bellevue Youth Court, the respondent must admit responsibility for their actions and agree to be sentenced by a court of their peers.
Since 2008, more than 125 youth and adult volunteers have served more than 750 volunteer hours in training and court service.
The program is based on Whatcom County's youth court. In 2010 Bellevue's program was named the Washington Recreation Professional Association's Spotlight Program of the Year.
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