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Court resumes Youth judge peers

TICONDEROGA The Essex County Youth Court will resume hearing cases this month in Ticonderoga. The program, which adjudicates misdemeanor criminal cases involving teen-agers, has 25 youth taking part this year. All are Ticonderoga High School students. The 2007 Ti youth court has been preparing by holding several mock trials this winter. The Essex County Youth Court is an integral part of the New York State Juvenile Justicesystem, said Randy Bevins, Ti youth court site coordinator. It has beenactive in Ticonderoga since 2004. Since that time, we have adjudicated approximately 40 cases. The youth court features a judge, jury, prosecuting attorney, defense attorney, bailiff and court clerk. Each role is fill by a local teen. Cases are referred to youth court by local police and by town court. The way cases are referred to youth court depends on the severity of theoffense, Bevins explained. Any violation level offense can be referred by the police department directly to the youth court. Examples of violation leveloffenses include harassment, under-age possession of alcohol andunlawful possession of marijuana. These are the most common of the referred cases from the police. Town court can refer violation level offenses that were not referred by police and has the ability to refer misdemeanor cases to youth court, he continued. The court normally takes a misdemeanor case and ACDs (Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal) it. As part of the ACD, the defendant must cooperate and successfully complete youth court. Should the respondent not successfully complete youth court, the defendant is referred back to criminal court. Accept in extremely unique circumstances, felony cases are not referred to youth court by any means, Bevins said. Youth court typically sentences offenders to community service. Offenders are also required to become part of the youth court system. As cases progress, part of the mandatory sentence for respondents is a minimum number of youth court jury duties, Bevins said. This helps maintain a good number of officers and allows the program to be self sustaining. Bevins said the recently-formed Essex County task force on underage drinking hasbeen very interested in youth court andhas made youth court a vital part of its discussions.

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