Teen Court to help stop peer mistakes

Prosecuting Attorney Alley Dongoske questions the assused juvenile on trial.

Teen Court is comprised of the following student volunteers: Alley Dongoske and Briana Conaster, Prosecuting Attorneys; Tristen Villarino and Ashley Gilliam, Defense Attorneys; Heather Boyd, Stephanie Garnett, Meagan Nagle, Cecilia Estudillo, Tristen Cullens, Kevin Crank and Jasmine Cullens, Jurors; and Monika LeGate, Bailiff.

Teen Court operates the same way as a traditional court. Two defense attorneys try to prove a person’s innocence, while the prosecuting attorneys try to prove his or her guilt to a jury.

As the case of the juvenile chaged with assault began, Judge Kolomitz asked everyone in the courtroom to rise and take an oath to keep the case confidential. The defendant was called to the stand and the defense began by asking the defendant if he was sorry. The defendant replied, yes. After the defense was finished, the prosecution began their case. One of the questions they asked was, “Has this been your first fight at school?” The defendant replied, “No.”

After both the defense and prosecution were done arguing their cases, Judge Kolomitz took questions from the jury. One of the questions asked was, “Do you think fighting solves your problems?” The defendant replied, “Sometimes.”

After all of the jury’s questions were answered, they were sent out to deliberate what the defendant’s consequences should be. As the jury entered the courtroom, tension from spectators feel the defendant. The jury handed the consequences to the bailiff, who in turn handed them to the judge, who handed it back to Jury Foreman Heather Boyd.

Boyd read the consequences to the defendant, which were: to serve on Teen Court for three hours, write 25 different ways to solve problems other than fighting, and a short letter of apology to the person the defendant offended.

Judge Kolomitz then wished the defendant good luck and dismissed the courtroom.

It was over seven years ago when Teen Court got its start here in Winslow. Judge Kolomitz has been presiding over Teen Court for the last four years. She said, “Teen Court is an excellent opportunity for juveniles who find themselves in trouble. If juvenile’s case is heard in Teen Court and finishes all consequences set forth by the jury, the charges filed on the juvenile will be dismissed, meaning there will be no record of the charges.”

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