Bladen Teen Court competes in mock trial

CONCORD — On April 13-15, The Teen Summit Mock Trial was hosted by the North Carolina Teen Court Association was held at the Great Wolf Lodge in Concord and included a mock trial competition, educational workshops, a dance, and a fun opportunity for the Teen Court teen volunteers to meet other youth from around the state who volunteer with Teen Court.

This event usually involves 150-160 teen volunteers and chaperones. The purpose of the Teen Court Summit is an opportunity for youth to engage in competition and apply the skills they have learned throughout the year as Teen Court volunteers. Also, it gives the youth a chance to explore career potions in the judicial system.

The Bladen County 4-H Teen Court Program recently had the opportunity to compete in the state-wide mock trial competition as Joel Fulton (NCCE- Bladen County Center) along with Rose Whitaker (Bladen County Clerk of Court Office), a volunteer for Teen Court who was a chaperone, took a seven-member team to the competition.

Team members are …

— Prosecuting attorneys: Romonia Whitaker and Samaria Grant from West Bladen High School.

— Defense attorneys: Michael Wax and Aaliyah Gregg from East Bladen High School.

— Clerk of Court: Kieara Porter from West Bladen High School.

— Bailiff: Tyrese McElveen from East Bladen High School.

— Defendant: Tatianna McElveen from East Bladen High School.

This was their first year participating in the Teen Summit Mock Trial. The team was excited about the competition and are already talking about next years competition.

Teen Court is a non-profit program under the Department of Public Safety and is funded by the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council that gives first-time youthful offenders, between the ages of 9 and 17, a second chance yet holds them fully accountable for their actions. In order to participate in the program they have to admit guilt and be accountable for their actions. Misdemeanor offenses, such as larceny, simple assault, affray, property damage, drug possession, alcohol possession, and others are heard in Teen Court. The defendant must stand before a jury of their peers, plead guilty to the offense and accept the sanctions imposed by the jury.

Teen volunteers from the local high schools act as defense attorney, prosecuting attorney, bailiff, court clerk and jurors. The only participating adult is the judge. Currently volunteers who have held that position are Aaron Cox (former Bladen County Magistrate), Quentin McGhee (Bladen County ADA) and Priscilla Dunham (Bladen County Magistrate).

Adults or students who are interested in volunteering for Teen Court or just want to know more about the 4- H Teen Court Program should contact Joel Fulton at 910-862-4591 or jfulton@ncsu.edu.

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