Two years ago, the Blount County Youth Court program was only a notion, an idea seeded by the 2013 Leadership Blount Class to give a hand up to youthful offenders who needed more than ordinary juvenile jurisprudence could provide.
Monday evening, the program graduated its second senior class, six students drawn from area high schools, kids who learned as many life lessons through their hard work as the offenders who were the focus of their deliberations.
“I’ve learned so many things while reviewing their cases about creative, restorative justice,” Foster said enthusiastically, introducing the graduating senior juror class Monday at the Blount Partnership Office.
“I saw some very interesting ideas about how our jurors are helping their peers.”
Youth Court President Lynn Peterson, a member of the aforementioned Blount Leadership class, explains the idea for youth court sprang from other, similar programs around the nation.
“I’d read about these programs in journals for about five years,” Peterson said. “They’re successful, and they’re evidenced-based. And they’re an up-and-coming trend in legal systems all over the country.”
Lynn Peterson, is a Lewis Thomason shareholder in the firm’s Knoxville office. She practices primarily in the personal injury, workers’ compensation, insurance defense, malpractice, employment law, and general litigation areas of law. Ms. Peterson has been a speaker at workers’ compensation and employment law seminars sponsored by lawyers as well as by employers. She has also participated in in-house training for large employers.
Jury of peers
Peterson helped found the program, as the focus of the 2013 Blount Leadership Class’ Legacy Project. Drawing students from every high school in Blount County, the Youth Court sees first-time, nonviolent juvenile offenders given an opportunity to face a jury of their peers.