Teen Court Terminology

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ADJOURN     To postpone or briefly delay a court proceeding.
(Example:  The court may call a brief recess before starting another case).

BAILIFF     An officer of the court charged with keeping order and taking care of the jury.

CLERK OF COURT   In Teen Court the Clerk of Court is responsible for keeping records and maintaining an account of each case.  The clerk also administers the Oath of Confidentiality to everyone in the courtroom at the beginning of the court hearing, and the clerk administers the oath for each witness to tell the truth before testimony is given.

COMPLAINT   A written statement of the essential facts that support the charge against          the offender.  In Juvenile Court this is called a “Petition”, and in District Court it is called a “Warrant.”

CONSTRUCTIVE SENTENCE   A Teen Court sentence that holds an offender responsible for his/her actions by allowing the offender to repay the community or school through community service hours, serving on a Teen Court jury, and whatever other alternatives that the Teen Court jury thinks would be appropriate.

CROSS EXAMINATION   The questioning of a witness by someone other than the person who originally put the witness on the stand.  Cross-examination can be for the purpose of clearing up something that was said (clarification) or to discredit the testimony of the witness.  Leading questions are permissible on cross.

DEFENDANT   The defendant in Teen Court is a middle or high school student who is a first-time misdemeanor offender who admits his/her guilt for the offense charged.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY   The attorney appointed to represent the offender and to argue for the minimum range of sentencing by presenting evidence that would influence the jury to grant a minimum sentence.

DELIBERATION   When the jurors meet together in private to consider the testimony given and to decide upon a fair and appropriate sentence.

DIRECT EXAMINATION   The first questioning of a witness by the person who called the witness to the stand to testify.  Leading questions cannot be asked on direct exam.

EVIDENCE    Information presented to the court by a witness.  In order for the evidence to be admissible, opposing counsel must be given an opportunity to review the evidence, and counsel must have the witness identify the evidence in such a way that the court has assurance that it is authentic and reliable.

GUILTY   The acknowledgment of guilt or responsibility by an offender who admits doing what she/he is accusing of doing.

IMMATERIAL OR IRRELEVANT   The information or evidence is not important or appropriate to the case being heard.  (Example:  A witness in a shoplifting case is asked by the prosecutor if she has ever smoked marijuana.  The defense attorney would say, “Objection, your Honor, such questioning is irrelevant to this case”).     

JUDGE   In Teen Court District and Superior Court judges and attorneys volunteer to serve as judges.  Occasionally a student serves as a Teen Court judge.  The judge presides over the Teen Court sentencing trial, rules on objections raised by attorneys, and instructs the jury on the law.

JUROR   A peer of the offender who listens to the information given in court and makes a decision on what the offender needs to do to repay the school or community for the offense committed.  In order to be fair and impartial, a juror should not personally know an offender or a victim, nor should the juror be from the same school as the offender.  The jury’s duty is to impose a fair and constructive sentence.

JURY FOREPERSON   A juror elected by his/her fellow jurors to lead the deliberation process and present the court with the Jury’s decision, a constructive sentence for the offender.  The jury foreperson is also responsible for maintaining order in the jury deliberation room.

OATH OF CONFIDENTIALITY   The oath administered by the clerk of court at the beginning of the Teen Court session.  Each individual in the court room raises their right hand and repeats the words of the oath, promising to keep Teen Court proceedings confidential.

OATH TO TELL THE TRUTH   Before testifying, each witness is sworn in by the Clerk of Court, and the witness swears or affirms to tell the truth.

OBJECTION    An attorney objects to a particular question or testimony when counsel believes the questioning or giving of information is improper. 

  • The question has already been asked and answered.
  • The question is argumentative.
  • The question is compound - asking two or more questions at the same time.
  • The question calls for hearsay information …giving information about something someone else told you (second-hand), or the witness’ response may contain hearsay statements.
  • The question or response is irrelevant or immaterial - the information does not deal with facts important to the case.
  • The question may be leading and improper if on direct exam.  A leading question directs a witness to the answer you want.

PROSECUTOR   An attorney who represents the State (or the “people” of the State).  It is the role of the prosecutor to seek punishment for the offender.

SESSION    The time during which the court is officially taking care of its business.

TESTIMONY   Information given to the court by a witness under oath.