The Youth Court Road Show
By Margaret E. Fisher
Suddenly all these young people were wearing the same Youth Court Road Show t-shirt, highlighting the theme of this year’s statewide Youth Court Association Conference on November 12, 2016. Student president Kira Bloomenthal opened the conference and set the tone for an interactive session. With the gracious funding from the Washington Judges Foundation, the annual conference was attended by 75 adults and young people.
On the Road with Cheney Firefighter Tim Steiner highlighted what happens to people in car crashes. He recruited a youth from the audience to demonstrate the neck brace, various breathing tubes, splints, and transport.
Washington State Association of Youth Courts Vice President elected Courtney Bell, Vice-President Terri Cooper and Kira Bloomenthal explored the Road to Legislation. The overall purpose was to launch legislative action to change existing RCWs governing youth courts, to expand coverage of what cases youth courts can hear. On February 20, 2017, this group met with legislators to draft a bill and move the legislative agenda forward. “Passport to Youth Courts” was one of the most popular activities. Each of the youth courts represented at the conference had created a poster with their logo, jurisdiction, court model, history and other information. Young persons visited each poster and learned about fellow youth courts, earning them a passport visa on their youth court passport.
Lake Forest Park Police Officer James Carswell along with his K-9 Hector demonstrated search techniques. It’s always hard to compete for popularity when there is an animal involved! Following this, Bothell Youth Court demonstrated the use of expert witnesses in their youth court hearings. The Seattle Youth Traffic Court has followed Bothell’s lead and now has two Seattle police officers to testify in their traffic cases.
Former Superintendent of Public Instruction, Judith Billings, presented the Flame of Democracy Award from the Council on Public Legal Education to Judge Michelle Gehlsen, the director of the Bothell Youth Court and also judge partner in the Bothell Street Law program, funded by the Washington Judges Foundation. Angelle Gerl, City of Cheney Prosecutor, and Courtney Bell, Gonzaga Law Extern, led the young people through hypotheticals to sharpen their questioning skills. At the same time Kelley Gradwahl from the Lake Forest Park Municipal Court led the coordinators in a discussion of current issues facing youth courts. The Black Hills High School Student Court Directors George Rother and Jen Kelly explained how their court worked with school rule violations.
The entire day was inspiring and motivating, and the Association is so grateful for the funding that allows this group to meet.
WJF newsletter Spring 2017