Lindenwood University-Belleville will host 37 St. Clair County high school students, who will be trained as new peer jurors for St. Clair County’s Teen Court Oct. 29.
According to Judge (Ret.) Annette Eckert, director of the program, in addition to the new jurors, 28 peer jurors will be returning, with many participating in the training. The training will begin at 9 a.m. in the U.S. Senator Alan J. Dixon Student Center, concluding at noon with a campus tour following the event.
States Attorney Brendan Kelly and Sheriff Rick Watson will welcome the teens, who come from 12 St. Clair County high schools.
During the past two years, 58 teens have had their cases heard by the Teen Court and successfully completed their sentences, thereby avoiding a criminal charge on their record. Teen offenders who appear before Teen Court have already pleaded guilty to their charges and are sentenced by their peers in Teen Court. Sixty-five teens from local high schools have served as volunteer peer jurors during this two-year period.
The training will include a mock Teen Court hearing and panel presentation by experienced St. Clair County Teen Court peer jurors. Teen Leadership Coordinator Dr. Thomas Trice will also engage the students regarding community service and leadership and assist them in planning the Teen Court’s first community service project for the year.
In addition, Teen Court Administrator Zabelle Vartanian will discuss the communication aspect of the program. Vartanian plans to talk with the jurors about how she will communicate with them, as well as explain her role of communicating with the offenders and parents of the offenders.
Teen Court, which began in 2014, is a restorative justice program of the St. Clair County Juvenile Justice Council.