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Youth Courts

'Striving to Stop the School-to-Prison Pipeline' Article in the Fall 2016 Widener Magazine
Read the article.

Volz Honored as Youth Court Champion, October 2016
The Pennsylvania Bar Association Law-Related Education Committee and its staff coordinator, Susan Etter (shown at left below), joined the Pennsylvania Council for the Social Studies and the PBA's Pro Bono Office to honor Gregg Volz (below right) as Pennsylvania statewide Youth Court Champion. PBA Pro Bono Coordinator David Trevaskis joined Etter in making the presentation, which was followed by a CLE on Youth Court conducted by Volz and other champions in the field, Philadelphia educator John Papiano; Keith Bailey; and Dennis Henderson of Pittsburgh Manchester Academic Charter School.

Inaugural Youth Court Champion Award Presented to Schnader Law Firm in Pittsburgh, May 3, 2016
The Pennsylvania Bar Association's Law-Related Education Committee and its chair, Philip Yoon, celebrated Law Week in style on May 3 when they joined with the PBA's Pro Bono Office to honor the youth court students of Manchester Academic Charter School (MACS) and their partners at Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP in an inspiring program at the Supreme Court courtroom in Pittsburgh. MACS Principal Dennis Henderson and PBA Pro Bono Coordinator David Trevaskis were joined by seventh- and eighth-grade students from the school in showcasing the youth court initiative at MACS. Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice David Wecht and Duquesne University School of Law professor Tracey McCants Lewis spoke passionately to the students and adults about service and justice. Yoon then presented a plaque to Keith Whitson, Schnader's administrative partner for its Pittsburgh office, recognizing the firm as the inaugural Pennsylvania statewide Youth Court Champion. Individual awards were presented to the numerous Schnader attorneys and staff members who regularly work with the MACS students to support its youth court initiative. A youth court demonstration was followed by awards to the eighth-grade students who make up MACS youth court, as well as the swearing in of the seventh-graders as next year's youth court team. Noted attorney Carl Cooper, a longtime supporter of the restorative justice efforts at MACS, concluded the program with brief remarks. See a slideshow collection of photos from the program (click on photos to advance).

Youth Court Program at Villanova University, March 18, 2016 Youth Court, supported by the PBA as an alternative to the school-to-prison pipeline, was featured on March 18 at Villanova University. The university�s Center for Peace and Justice Education, in conjunction with the Augustinian Peace and Justice Office, hosted the one-day forum on how the principles of restorative justice can help pave the way to resolving disputes and healing broken relationships throughout society. University of Pennsylvania law students who have worked all year with PBA partner EducationWorks and its Youth Court Support Center, with YCSC head Gregg Volz, helped train the Beeber Middle School Youth Court featured in these photos. The students conducted a mock hearing as part of the Restorative Justice Coalition Conference. The Strawberry Mansion High School Youth Court, trained through a partnership with the U.S. Attorney�s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, also made a presentation and were equally impressive in presenting the Youth Court model.

First Annual Social Justice Award Gala Honors Edgar S. Cahn, Sept. 10, 2015
On Sept. 10 the PBA will be front and center at the National Constitution Center (NCC) in Philadelphia for the First Annual Social Justice Award Gala honoring Edgar S. Cahn. The attached announcement and article provide information about Cahn and the award ceremony. In the past four years the PBA, ABA, Philadelphia Bar and Philadelphia City Council all passed resolutions supporting youth courts. PBA-supported youth court efforts are underway for the new school year in Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Franklin, Montgomery, Philadelphia and Westmoreland counties. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has provided both money and staff to the effort in the southeastern Pennsylvania area. There are also events with Cahn bracketing the NCC celebration on Sept. 9 at Swarthmore College, with the PBA Pro Bono Office presenting the annual Swarthmore College Edgar and Jean Camper Cahn Law and Social Justice Award honoring college students helping the Chester City youth courts, and on Sept. 11 the University of Pennsylvania Law School's Toll Public Interest Center will host a program on youth courts with Cahn, along with the BALSA students there who do the PBA's Project PEACE Program.

Youth Court CLE Presentation in Philadelphia, April 23, 2014
The Pennsylvania Bar Association�s Pro Bono Office, in partnership with the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Youth Court Support Center at Education Works, held a free Youth Court CLE seminar on April 23, 1-4 p.m. at the U.S. Attorney�s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, 615 Chestnut Street, 8th Floor Conference Room, in Philadelphia. The seminar featured distinguished speakers from the legal, educational and medical communities who explored youth courts as a preventative strategy to reduce violence and terminate the school-to-prison pipeline. Click on the following links for more information.

Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor William P. Fedullo, lower right, listens intently at the youth court seminar.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Williams addresses the crowd at the event.

Presentation on the Youth Court Initiative of Western Pennsylvania, April 2014

Philadelphia Bar Association Board Supports Youth Courts in October 2013, Resolution
Encouraging "the legal community to contribute resources to establish youth courts and a support center to promote best practices, provide planning, training, coordination, data collection, and liaison services to schools and juvenile justice systems," the Philadelphia Bar Association Board of Governors adopted a pro youth courts resolution on Oct. 29, 2013. Read the resolution.

Jennifer Kaur Koch Receives Third Annual Swarthmore College Edgar and Jean Camper Cahn Law and Social Justice Award, June 1, 2013
Jennifer Kaur Koch, a 2013 graduate of Swarthmore College, received the third annual Swarthmore College Edgar and Jean Camper Cahn Law and Social Justice Award on Sunday, June 1, 2013. She was honored by the Legal Services to the Public Committee and the Pro Bono Office of the Pennsylvania Bar Association for her work supporting high school student run youth courts which are gaining popularity in the Chester Upland and Philadelphia schools. Read more.

Youth Court Resources
Youth Court Seminar at U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia, April 10, 2013

Shown above, PBA President Thomas G. Wilkinson Jr., left, joins U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Zane David Memeger, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Reed and Mary Pugh, PBA youth court liaison, at a youth court seminar at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia. See more photos from the event. Click on the following links for materials from the seminar titled "Youth Courts: School Safety/Climate, Youth Development and the Law":
Biographies of Panelists
Chester Youth Courts Report
Chester Youth Courts Report, Executive Summary
Law School Professor's Perspective on Youth Courts
Legal Community Support for Youth Courts
Youth Court Symposium Notes
Youth Court Training Teams

Pennsylvania Department of Education Letter of Support for Youth Courts
Read the March 20, 2013, letter from Sally M. Flaherty, social studies advisor with the Pennsylvania Department of Education, to Gregory Volz of the Stoneleigh Foundation.

Philadelphia's Imhotep Institute Charter High School Youth Court Mock Trial Event, March 1, 2013

Resource: Stoneleigh Foundation, 2012
The Stoneleigh Foundation works to improve the life outcomes of vulnerable and under-served children and youth, targeting young people in the child-welfare and juvenile justice systems. According to lawyer Gregory Volz, a Stoneleigh fellow, youth courts reduce the number of youth in the juvenile justice system and foster youth development and academic achievement.

PBA President Testifies in Support of Youth Courts, June 19, 2012
PBA President Thomas G. Wilkinson Jr. testified before the Philadelphia City Council Committee on Public Safety in favor of the establishment of youth courts on June 19, 2012. Read Wilkinson's testimony. Read a compilation of the testimony in support of youth courts. Read the Philadelphia City Council resolution of April 12, 2102, authorizing the committee hearings. Read the June 21, 2012, Philadelphia City Council citation "Honoring and Recognizing The Youth Courts Founders and Supporters." Shown below, Wilkinson meets with Talia Santiago, a junior from Kensington Culinary High School and a member of that school's youth court who testified in support of youth courts.

Sofia Saiyed Receives Swarthmore College Edgar and Jean Camper Cahn Law and Social Justice Award, May 18, 2012
Sofia Saiyed, a 2010 graduate of Swarthmore College, received the second annual Swarthmore College Edgar and Jean Camper Cahn Law and Social Justice Award on May 18, 2012. She was honored by the Legal Services to the Public Committee and the Pro Bono Office of the Pennsylvania Bar Association for her work at the college supporting youth courts in the Chester Upland and Philadelphia schools. Read more.

2011-12 Efforts at Bartrum High in Philadelphia
      Article on Setting Up the Court
      Southwest Globe Times Article, April 5, 2012

Pennsylvania's Juvenile Justice System Enhancement Strategy, April 2012

Youth Courts Paper Presented March 16, 2012
As part of the 2012 Edward V. Sparer Symposium at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, Gregg Volz, a Stoneleigh Foundation Fellow and public interest lawyer, David K. Trevaskis, PBA pro bono coordinator, and Rachel Miller, a third year law student at Penn, presented a paper describing the support that lawyers, especially the PBA, have provided to the youth courts movement. Click here for the paper, titled "Coming of Age Against the Odds: Advocating for At-Risk Youth," as posted to the Penn law website.

Project PEACE
Project PEACE is sponsored in Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General and the PBA. It works to reduce conflicts and violence in Pennsylvania elementary schools by teaching children how to discuss and mediate their disagreements peacefully. Youth courts are an important element of Project PEACE.

PBA Resolution on Youth Courts
In May 2011, the PBA Board of Governors and House of Delegates unanimously passed a resolution "encourage[ing passage of Youth-Court legislation and] support[ing] the public/private partnership to expand and improve the sustainability of Youth Courts across Pennsylvania." Read the resolution.

Pennsylvania Juvenile Court Judges' Commission Resources
Click here for the Juvenile Court Judges' Commission website. Click here for the May 2011 JCJC newsletter featuring information on youth courts.

Shilpa Boppana Receives Inaugural Swarthmore College Edgar and Jean Camper Cahn Law and Social Justice Award
Shilpa Boppana, a 2011 graduate of Swarthmore College and a former intern with the founder of the Chester youth court program, received the inaugural Swarthmore College Edgar and Jean Camper Cahn Law and Social Justice Award on May 29, 2011. Click here for more on Boppana and photos from the award event.

Pennsylvania Lawyer Magazine March/April 2011 Article on Youth Courts by Greg Volz

Philadelphia Inquirer Article on Chester High School Youth Court, Feb. 28, 2011

April 2010: Greg Volz looks on as four of his youth court �pioneers� who have been with him for three years are honored with new laptops for their work with the Chester High School Youth Court.

ABA Youth Cases for Youth Courts Desktop Guide: A Guide to the Typical Offenses Handled by Youth Courts

New York State Youth Court 2010 Best Practices Manual
If you're interested in youth courts, check out �Recommended Practices for Youth Courts: A Manual for New York Youth Court Coordinators and Practitioners.� The March 2010 manual is available for review and download at http://www.courtinnovation.org/_uploads/documents/Youth_Court_Manual.pdf. Its 121 pages are based on a literature search, site visits to selected New York State youth courts and a survey of youth courts.

Spring 2009 Article and Developments in Chester, Pa.
Among those attending the 2007 Outreach to Children Summit described below was a group of law and justice professionals and educators from the City of Chester, who took up Higgins' challenge that Pennsylvania should have a broad network of teen courts and who have spent the last three years developing and implementing such a court at Chester High School. For more information on youth courts, click here for an article from the spring 2009 issue of the Juvenile and Family Court Journal.

In an exciting extension to the program in Chester, the 2009-10 school year has seen the creation at of an elective Street Law class Chester High to expand the reach of the youth court with extra activities, including participation in the 27th annual Statewide Mock Trial Competition sponsored by the PBA Young Lawyers Division. Plans are also moving forward for the unveiling of a Law Academy at Chester High in 2010-11, which will be a reflection of the civic education outreach of Pennsylvania First Lady and 3rd U.S. Circuit Judge Midge Rendell. Delaware County Bar President Bruce Rodger is among those leading local efforts to develop support for the Law Academy.

2007 Event: Outreach to Children Summit; Children & Families in the System
During the Interdisciplinary Children's Summit convened in May 2007 by then-PBA President Kenneth Horoho, Bedford County District Attorney William Higgins presented an informational session on teen courts, a juvenile justice intervention that allows youth who have violated the norms of society, whether in school or beyond, to be adjudicated before a peer jury. Go to http://www.pabar.org/public/committees/childini/summit.asp for event links, including a link to Higgins' PowerPoint on this topic (Teen Court Model, Presentation by William J. Higgins Jr., District Attorney, Bedford County).