About 70 area students will be sworn in as Teen Court volunteers during a ceremony at Samford University Thursday, Aug. 25. Jefferson County family court judge Alan Summers will perform the swearing-in during the 6 p.m. program in Reid Chapel.
The volunteers completed a two-day training period that prepared them to serve as attorneys, jurors, bailiffs and clerks in the Teen Court program sponsored by the Alabama Center for Law and Civic Education (ACLCE). They represent middle schools, high schools and home school programs throughout Jefferson County.
ACLCE, housed at Samford’s Cumberland School of Law, is dedicated to educating young citizens about law and government through its Teen Court and Street Law programs.
Teen Court, which operates in Birmingham and Bessemer, is a division of Jefferson County Family Court. It allows juvenile offenders who are charged with non-violent misdemeanor crimes to be represented and prosecuted by teen attorneys before a jury of their peers. Cumberland professors and law students assist the teen litigators in preparing their cases.
The offenders as well as the Teen Court members learn about the laws that were broken, the consequences of the offense, and how due process is observed through court procedure, according to ACLCE interim director Kerri Williamson.
Teen Court volunteers must be in grades 8 through 12 and in good academic standing. Selection criteria include teacher recommendation and interview.
About 200 volunteers, including 50 adults, assist with Teen Court. The program is supported by Jefferson County Family Court, Junior League of Birmingham, Bessemer Junior Service League,
Bessemer Bar Association and private donors.