Some of the teens who will serve as jurors on Teen Court are (back) Hunter Cummings, Aryanna Arnone, Samantha Topel, Bret Reuter, Emma Klapper; (front) Ross Dahlke, Aleicia Gannon, Hannah Arbeiter, Jade Kaenel, and Sarah Bubolz.

Local youth to be part of countywide Teen Court

By Keri Solis
In the beginning of 2014, Marquette County will have a new option for putting teens who break a law through the justice system with Teen Court. Rick Raatz, Healthy Communities Healthy Youth and Teen Court Coordinator, recently met with Montello and Westfield teens who will be serving as jurors on the court to go through a mock trial.

The process begins when a teen breaks a law. An officer may decide that the teen and the situation are a good fit for teen court. After the facts are reviewed by Raatz and the District Attorney, if approved, the juvenile is entered into the teen court system rather than the regular court route. One key factor is that a teen may only go through teen court if they have admitted guilt to the offense.

The teen and their parents will then meet with Raatz prior to going before the teen jury, who will ask questions about the incident, and review police reports and school information before determining a sentence.

Like a regular court, the jury has guidelines for minimum and maximum punishment for the offense. The sentence could include one or multiple items, such as community service, writing a paper, writing an apology and restitution. The sentence is then reviewed by the Teen Court Coordinator and passed on to the DA. With all giving a nod of approval, the sentence is then monitored by Raatz and the offense is removed from the record of the teen. A juvenile may only go through teen court one time. After that, if they offend again, they would have to go through the regular court system.