Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Retreat of WSAYC Officers on May 31, 2014 - lunch break

Student President Elijah Haynes debates experiences with President Joshua Arsenaux over lunch at Van Trapps.
Susan Goettsch, the long-serving secretary-treasurer, enjoys lunch at Van Trapps.

On May 31, 2014, the officers of the Washington
State Association of Youth Courts held their retreat with a primary focus on designing the fall conference for youth courts. The prospective dates are October 11 or October 18 and the event will take place in either University of Washington - Bothell or at the Seattle U School of Law. Members will be polled and the site and times selected.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


By Diana Hefley, Herald Writer The boy was stressed out and distracted, the jury agreed. He also already works 22 hours a week outside of school. How much community service would be sufficient to send a message and hold him accountable for his actions? The prosecutors asked for 20 hours. The defense suggested eight hours. Jurors settled on the boy's punishment: 12 hours of community service, a one-page letter about the dangers of inattentive driving, and two sessions volunteering with the court. They filed out into the packed courtroom, ready to give their verdict. The boy's case was one of three heard earlier this month in the Bothell Youth Court, a blossoming program geared at raising awareness among young drivers and holding them accountable for their mistakes. The court also provides about two dozen high school kids the opportunity to interact with college students and local lawyers. "We're not only potentially saving lives but we're also training our future leaders," Bothell Municipal Court Judge Michelle Gehlsen said. The youth court began last year out of a partnership between the city, University of Washington Bothell and local high schools. Young drivers facing their first traffic offenses are offered the option of having their cases heard in the youth court. They must admit they've committed the infractions and agree to the alternative sentences offered by the court, which focuses on restorative justice. Once they complete the requirements, the citation can be dropped off their driving records. "I think young drivers are going to learn more from their mistakes this way then just paying the ticket," Bothell High School junior Emma Yamamoto said. All the court's participants are high school students. They act as the lawyers, judges, jurors, clerk and bailiff. They attend training sessions with UW Bothell college students and receive advice from local attorneys. They volunteer about 20 hours a month to research the cases, meet with the teen drivers and attend the night court hearings. Yamamoto, who has a relative in law enforcement, began volunteering to "get experience with the court system." "I wanted to learn how people my age are affected by the law," she said. So far, she sees that it's not just the ticketed drivers who are taking away some important lessons. "I think everyone can learn from them," she said. In some cases, firefighters have testified about what they see when they respond to crashes. That testimony hits home for some of the teens, Gehlsen said. Sydney Kramer, a Bothell High School junior, was both a prosecutor and defense attorney at the court's most recent session. In the first case, she questioned Bothell Fire Marshal Frank Shasky about the dangers of distracted driving. "The first thing to remember is if you're distracted, it's an impairment," Shasky said. Kramer is interested in going to law school. That's why she joined the court. She serves as the youth president for the court's community advisory board. She likes working with the attorneys, who coach her how to ask better questions of witnesses. The 16-year-old said she also enjoys meeting with the respondents and talking to them before the court hearings. She asks about their grades and activities outside of school. She questions them about their driving and the circumstances that led to their tickets. "As the respondent's advocate we want them to be seen as people, and that they are truly sorry," she said. Kramer, who doesn't have her driver's license yet, thinks some respondents understand the value of being able to make up for their mistakes. Others, she said, are just relieved they don't have to pay the ticket. "If we can change a least one person's behavior, whether it's speeding or texting, that's what counts," she said.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Overlooked a Great Resource for Youth Courts

I am posting a link to a great resource for folks interested in youth courts. Scott Peterson formerly from the US Department of Justice and big supporter of youth courts has his own Global Youth Justice program to support youth courts. The weblink is www.globalyouthjustice.org/ You'll find lots of great resources and announcements. Go, Scott!

Friday, November 1, 2013


My name is Joshua Arsenaux. I am Coordinator of the Bothell Youth Court. Raised in Seattle, I was forced early on to confront the justice system. At 12 years, I was designated ward of the court and entered the foster-care system. Feeling marginalized, I watched my life spiral downwards through confrontations with cops, school counselors, and family. I remember walking into the doors of the juvenile courtroom and feeling the sharp eyes of judges and attorneys look through my chest like a river of fire. During my senior year of high school, I attended a two-day conference called the Future of the Law Institute where heroes within the legal field spoke about how the law can be used to heal rather than destroy communities. I was encouraged to transform myself, and ever since I have believed in the power restorative justice can have in changing lives. I can be reached at JArsenaux@uwb.edu. Bothell Youth Court “Bothell Youth Court was started through the joint efforts of Bothell Municipal Court Michelle K. Gehlsen, University of Washington Bothell students, and Professor Camille Walsh. A genuine community and university partnership from the beginning, Bothell Youth Court draws on the knowledge of multiple stakeholders in the community to create an unforgettable experience in citizenship and restorative justice for the participants.”

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The annual youth court conference, sponsored by the Administrative Office of the Court (AOC) and the Washington State Association of Youth Courts, drew about 60 individuals for an exciting and education program. Special Advisor Margaret Fisher opened the meeting with an overview of youth courts. Harmeen Kaur, Outgoing Student President led an engaging ice breaker. What followed was a session reported by many as the most compelling presentation they had ever experienced- on the very current issue of social media safety. Two experts from British Columbia, Darren and Beth Laur of Professional Protection Systems, Incl. described various social media safety challenges and also gave the audience real tools to protect themselves.

Outgoing President Terri Cooper, Coordinator of the Cheney Youth Traffic Court led a concurrent session of youth court coordinators and interested community members on how to establish a youth court and brainstormed solutions to issues facing youth courts today.

Charley Bates from AOC ran the elections for new officers. The officers for 2013 are President Joshua Arsenaux of Bothell Youth Court, Student President Elijah Haynes of the Seattle Youth Traffic Court, returning Vice-President Tracey Lassus of Clallam County Youth Court, Student Vice-President Maddie Snowden of Bothell Youth Court, permanent Secretary/Treasurer Susan Goettsch, and Special Advisor Margaret Fisher.

Seattle Police Detective Megan Bruneau and Marie Hoffman of the Washington Anti-Trafficking Response Network explored myths about what human trafficking is and what can be done about in Washington.

The program concluded with a dynamic presentation by former prosecutor Andrea Jamon and defense attorney Josei Wiggs-Martin on tips for questioning witnesses. Everyone left the conference highly energized, even those students who left home that Saturday morning at 5 a.m. to get to the conference.

Statewide Youth Court Training 10-26-2013