Manatee County Clerk of the Court hosts youth training for Teen Court volunteer attorneys

The Manatee County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller is hosting a training event to provide young adults, ages 12-17, the opportunity to learn how to be an attorney in real criminal cases for Manatee County’s Teen Court and Teen Court Too, a diversionary program designed to stop youthful delinquent behavior before a pattern is established.

The training event will take place at the Manatee Community Foundation, located at 2820 Manatee Ave. W. in Bradenton, on Sat., April 13 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. During the session, students will discover how to defend and prosecute juvenile offenders that have been diverted or referred to Manatee County’s Teen Court and Teen Court Too diversionary program from the Department of Juvenile Justice and Juvenile Court. Students will also gain basic legal and judicial system knowledge, practice proper court decorum, learn valuable life skills like public speaking and earn community service hours.

“Officials realized that these kids were basically good kids that made a mistake,” said Sue Lockliear, supervisor for Manatee County Teen Court and Teen Court Too. “The main difference between these hearings rather than a regular court case is that the child has to admit their guilt to be in the program. The hearing is basically an opportunity to testify about what happened and then a jury of their peers decides what their sentence may be within the guidelines.”

Lunch and refreshments will be provided. For more information or to reserve your spot, contact Manatee County Teen Court and Teen Court Too at 941-741-4027 or sue.lockliear@manateeclerk.com.

Established in Manatee County in 1991, Teen Court and Teen Court Too was created to allow first-time juvenile offenders, ages 10-17, of misdemeanor offenses a second chance while holding them accountable for their actions. Cases are heard before a jury of their peers and sanctions are assigned for the defendant to complete.

Each defendant within the program is required to complete two mandatory sanctions: community service hours and jury duty. However, the jury has the option to hand out additional sanctions, including writing letters of apology or essays, a verbal apology to their parents in court, curfews, restitution or counseling, among other sanctions.

Manatee County Teen Court and Teen Court Too is held every Tuesday evening at 5:15 p.m. on the fourth floor of the Manatee County Judicial Center at 1051 Manatee Ave. W. in Bradenton, excluding holidays. Youth volunteers fill the following roles: prosecuting attorney, defense attorney, court clerk, bailiff and juror. Only those volunteers who have gone through an attorney-training session, held twice a year in spring and fall, will be able to defend or prosecute a case.