1. Sessions should be conducted between the hours of 3:30 PM and 5:00 PM to accommodate student transportation, unless other arrangements are made in advance, after consultation with the teacher/coordinator.
2. The Juvenile Offender must be accompanied by a parent or guardian and upon arrival should be provided with a room that is isolated from the courtroom and the student jurors. The Probation Officer and the teacher/coordinator should make these arrangements.
3. When Teen Court is ready to begin it is called to order by the student/bailiff, “Please rise, Teen Court for (high school or city for the court) is now in session, the Honorable Judge (name of Judge) presiding.” The Jury can be seated at this point and asked to remain quiet, or as and option, the court may wish to try the following innovation described in Steps 4, 5, and 6.
4. The Bailiff is instructed to bring in the Juvenile Offenders who are present for trial. The Juvenile Offenders stand before the entire jury venire. (OPTIONAL)
5. The Judge or Clerk of the court swears in the Jury as follows: “You do, and each of you, understand and agree that you will accurately and truthfully answer, under penalty of perjury, all questions propounded to you concerning your qualifications and competency to serve as a trial juror in the matter now pending before this court, and that failure to do so may subject you to criminal prosecution. Please answer, “I do.” (OPTIONAL)
6. The Court now reads the charges to each juvenile offender and inquires of the entire Jury Panel whether any of them know any of the Juvenile Offenders who are appearing for trial, or have any reason based on the charges, that they could not be a fair and impartial juror. (OPTIONAL)
7. The trial is now ready to begin. All charged Juvenile Offenders are in another room with their parent or guardian. The case is called and the Student/Bailiff escorts the Juvenile Offender and parent into the courtroom. The Juvenile Offender is seated in the witness chair.
8. The Jury is now selected either from a random list or slips of paper. Some courts select the jury first and then bring in the Juvenile Offender. Others prefer to select the jury in the Juvenile Offender’s presence. The jury should consist of no less than six student/jurors and no more than twelve.
9. The Jury is now sworn in by the clerk. “Please stand. Do you understand and agree that you will well and truly try the cause now pending before this court, and render a verdict according only to the evidence presented to you and to the instructions of the court? Please answer “I do.” (OPTIONAL)
10. The Juvenile Offender is now sworn in (see sample script).
11. The charge summary is now read to the Jury either by the clerk of the court or the Probation Officer.
12. The Judge asks the Juvenile Offender whether or not the allegations in the charge summary are correct.
13. The Juvenile Offender has the option of accepting the charges with an explanation or denying the charges and telling the Jury his side of the story. Admission of guilt is not a prerequisite to appearing in the Los Angeles County Teen Court. If the Juvenile Offender does admit guilt, the Jury should inquire of the Juvenile Offender about information that would assist them in fashioning a proper disposition of the case.
14. The Jury is allowed to ask questions of the Juvenile Offender and his or her parents. The Jury can also review any school reports that the Juvenile Offender has brought to court for the trial. (The Probation Officer should have the Juvenile Offender bring his or her last report card and attendance record to Teen Court.)
15. The questioning process should not last longer than 20 minutes except in a very unusual case. This permits the court to handle at least three cases per session. The Judge should act as a timekeeper for these trials.
16. INTERPRETER – If the Juvenile Offender or the Parent/Guardian have a language problem, the Probation Officer should notify the Teacher/Coordinator for the court so that student interpreter(s) can be made available. Since jurors ask questions of both the Juvenile Offender and the Parent/Guardian, we often use more than one interpreter.
17. The Juvenile Offender and parent are then excused by the Judge and escorted out by the Student/Bailiff. The Juvenile Offender and parent wait in another room until the Jury completes their deliberations.
18. The Judge instructs the Jury, and then the Student/Bailiff escorts the Jury to the deliberation room. The Jury is provided a jury verdict form to be signed by all deliberating jurors. An attorney may accompany the Jury to proctor their deliberations.
19. JURY VERDICT – When a verdict is reached, the Juvenile Offender and parent are called back into the courtroom and the Jury is returned to the jury box (seat). The Foreperson of the Jury then reads the verdict and recommendations of the Jury. The Judge then makes findings and orders and may approve or modify the jury recommendations as the interest of justice and program parameters require (see sample script).
20. QUESTIONS OF GUILT & INNOCENCE – When the Juvenile Offender denies the truth of the allegations, the Jury must decide if the Juvenile Offender is guilty or not guilty. Teen Court does not require a unanimous vote; a majority vote is sufficient. In the case of a “hung jury,” charges are dismissed. When the Juvenile Offender admits the allegations, the Jury must decide only the appropriate disposition and make its recommendations to the court.
21. JURY RECOMMENDATIONS – Teen Court jurors are encouraged to be creative in their recommendations to the court for the rehabilitation of the Juvenile Offender. The Jury may not recommend incarceration or payment of a fine, but may consider any type of counseling, tutoring, community service, letters of apology, curfew or any other sanction designed to assist the Juvenile Offender in his/her rehabilitation (see sample verdict form).