Welcome to the Special Committee on Youth Courts
The Special Committee on Youth Courts, chaired by former Chief Judge Judith Kaye and Patricia Rodriguez, a member of the Association’s Executive Committee, was created in June 2010 by NYSBA President Stephen P. Younger to examine what roles the Bar Association can play in strengthening Youth Courts, defining best practices, identifying locations where new Youth Courts can be established, and developing strategies for raising funds to enlarge the initiative.
The Special Committee held an informational event in the fall of 2010 at the Bar Center in Albany and invited local stakeholders to attend. The purpose of this event was to lay the ground work for the development of a Youth Court in Albany. Through work from members of the committee, the local judiciary, and the Albany City School District a Youth Court was established at Albany High School in the fall of 2011. With funding through the United States Attorney’s office and support from the school district, the first class of student members has been trained and will begin hearing cases in March 2012.
Youth Courts have a dual purpose. First, they are a vehicle for addressing real-life problems faced by young people (such as truancy, school fighting, graffiti, vandalism and shoplifting), intervening early to avoid more serious encounters that trigger a downward life spiral. Second, they offer participating teens, who are trained to serve as jurors, judges, attorneys and court personnel, education in our justice system, too often lacking today.
Overseen by volunteer lawyers, judges, educators, law enforcement officials or community members, Youth Courts take various forms. Sanctions typically include community service, letters of apology, behavior modification classes, essays and counseling. The courts use positive peer pressure to ensure that young people who commit even minor offenses give back to the community and avoid further entanglement with the justice system. There are more than 80 Youth Courts operating throughout New York State.
The New York Bar Foundation has supported Youth Courts by providing grants for the Center for Court Innovation to develop a comprehensive Recommend Practices Manual; for the Staten Island Youth Court to develop programs that provide opportunities for local teens to hear cases involving low-level offenses committed by youth; and for the Youth Justice Board, which seeks to influence juvenile justice through a model participatory democracy program that brings the voice of informed youth directly to policymakers.
The newly formed Special Committee will examine what roles the Bar Association can play in strengthening Youth Courts, defining best practices, identifying locations where new Youth Courts can be established, and developing strategies for raising funds to enlarge the initiative.
An event sponsored by the Special Committee on Youth Courts, co-chaired by Judge Judith Kaye and Patricia Rodriguez, to introduce local stakeholders in the Capital Region to the Youth Court system through speakers and a presentation of a Youth Court hearing performed by members of the Colonie Youth Court. A question and answer period will conclude the event.
Click link above. Scroll down the menu bar until the title above is reached. Click on title to view presentation.
On January 28, 2011 the Greenpoint Youth Court present a mock youth court case in front of the House of Delegates during Annual Meeting in New York City. Click link above to reach menu, scroll down until title is reached. Click of title, then on Youth Court demonstration to view presentation.
In January 2011 a special issue of the NYSBA Journal was dedicated to Youth courts.
Please contact Stacey Whiteley with any question or to request additional information regarding Youth Courts and the Special Committee's work.