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Brunswick County Mock Trial competition team placed second in the state during the recent North Carolina Teen Court Summit.
Team coaches were Fred Ammann and John Kelso. Adult volunteers and team members included Perry Smith and Josh Theroux, prosecutors; Ashley Williams and Tabitha Causby, defense attorneys; Dakota Evans, bailiff; and Keith Hughes, clerk of court.
Attorney alternates attending the summit were Amber Albright and Taylor Theroux. They competed with students throughout North Carolina. Williams was recognized with an award for “Outstanding Trial Advocacy.” Jocelyn Frink was awarded first place in the court reporter category and Hailey Tippett won second place in the courtroom sketch artist category.
Evans, bailiff, opened court with the traditional “Oh yes, Oh yes, Oh yes.”
In a separate courtroom clerk of court Hughes called the case number and swore in “Casey,” the defendant, telling her to “tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”
“Casey” was on trial for possession of alcohol on a school campus. Williams and Causby pointed out mitigating factors in “Casey’s” life such as she had never been in any kind of trouble before, her parents were divorcing and she was experiencing a lot of pressure from her friends to drink. Prosecuting attorneys Smith and Josh Theroux used their questions to point out the seriousness of underage drinking and consequences such as slipping grades, suspension from the basketball team and poor school attendance. During closing arguments, Smith told the jury, “We’re asking for a firm, constructive sentence to get this woman on the right track.”
Adult leaders and 10 youth from Brunswick County joined 152 others from across North Carolina for the 10th annual Teen Court Summit in New Bern. The North Carolina Teen Court Association sponsors the event each year. The Southport-Oak Island Kiwanis sponsored four individual team members to attend the Summit.
Objectives for the three-day event included gathering volunteers from every Teen Court in North Carolina; improving volunteer effectiveness in court; gaining practical experience through the mock trial competition; developing friendships; and sharing information and experiences. Workshops included a hands-on, student-led investigation into a staged crime scene; review of constitutional law and courtroom objections; technology and effects on espionage and forensic evidence.
Glenda Ansley, director stated, “Our mock trial team, under the leadership of Fred Ammann and John Kelso, did an excellent job. Mock trial competition is the time the students can take on their courtroom roles and just have fun with the whole process. The rest of the year their courtroom time is spent holding real trials involving real juveniles charged with real crimes.”
Teen Court is an alternative system of juvenile justice that offers first-time offenders ages 12-18 an opportunity to accept responsibility for their actions and make restitution for their offenses through community service and other educational opportunities. Their peers give juveniles referred to Teen Court a constructive sentence after a trial designed to be as much like regular court sessions as possible.
Teen Court is a partnership program between Rex Gore, district attorney, and Communities In Schools. The Brunswick County Juvenile Crime Prevention Council provides funding for the program.
For more information or to volunteer, contact Glenda Ansley, Teen Court Director at 253-8220 or e-mail email@example.com.