Teen Court Program History

The Teen Court program was started in Durham in 1994 by then, Assistant District Attorney Marcia Morey as an alternative system of justice for middle school and high school students who are first time misdemeanor offenders. The program holds young people accountable for their crimes, and offenders are sentenced by a jury of their peers. The program also educates young people, (offenders and volunteers) in the workings of the court system.  Youth volunteers have the opportunity to serve as attorneys, clerks, bailiffs and jurors. They are also exposed to local attorneys and judges who mentor them and assist with the teen court process.  This program allows these volunteers to serve as positive role models to their peers who have come before the court. Youth at risk of court involvement participate in this alternative system of justice that holds them accountable for their offenses in a prompt and constructive manner. Peer juries sentence offenders to community service, jury duties and educational workshops. By completing their sentence, juveniles can learn to redirect negative behavior, develop self-discipline and take responsibility for their actions. Participation of parents is also required.  Youth who successfully complete their Teen Court sentence benefit by their charge being dismissed and not having a conviction on their record.