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Most middle-school students will not be required to use the phrase, “The defense rests, your honor.” Not so for Eliana Nunez-Dominguez, a seventh-grade student at Leland Middle School, who uses it frequently as a student attorney in the Peer Court program.
Peer Court is a partnership between the district attorney’s office and Communities in Schools of Brunswick County.
Middle school youth who are in trouble with the law for the first time can opt to have their case diverted through Peer Court. The student defendant is required to attend a court hearing that is run by student volunteers from their school and adult volunteers from their community.
“It’s a win-win for everybody involved,” said Susan Lamm, Peer Court coordinator. “The defendants are receiving education to encourage positive behavior choices in the future, and student volunteers like Eliana are practicing valuable leadership skills in an actual judicial setting.”
Now in her second year, Nunez-Dominguez has served as a juror and filled both prosecuting and defense attorney positions.
When asked which role she prefers, she smiled and replied, “Defense, because I like seeing the good in people.”
For more information about the Peer Court program at Leland Middle School or Communities in Schools of Brunswick County, contact Lamm at 253-5327, ext. 1713.