The Cass County Youth Court saw the graduation of close to forty young people on Tuesday, October 16, at the old Cass County Courthouse.
The Youth Court is a program which allows kids, ages 12 to 19, to learn how the court system works by becoming a part of the court system. The kids train to be court clerks, judges, bailiffs, and attorneys. After extensive training, they must pass a bar exam before they begin taking on cases from the court system.
The youth who graduated last week “worked really hard,” according to Raymore’s Municipal Judge Stacey Lett, to reach the point of graduation.
Beginning September 16, they met on five consecutive Monday nights for training before concluding with the bar review on a Saturday. At last Tuesday’s ceremony in Harrisonville, those who finished the training and passed the bar exam were officially inducted as Youth Court members.
The new inductees will shadow alumni who have become accustomed to working in the court system until they are ready, on an individual basis, to handle cases on their own.
The cases that these young people handle are low-level crimes, including instances of shoplifting and property damage, among others. Common sentences include community service, essay writing, or taking an applicable class. After the sentence is fulfilled, the case is closed.
Lett explained that peers facing peers in the court system “impacts kids a lot more.”
“It’s a phenomenal program,” she remarked.
The Youth Court convenes the fourth Thursday of every month, with the exception of November and December, at Raymore City Hall. The City of Raymore allows the Youth Court to use the facility at no cost.
The Youth Court has several adults who volunteer to make the program happen, including Jerry Eftink, Angie Barbarick, Yvette Leonard, and Steele Chamberlain.
The keynote speaker of the evening was Representative Chris Molendorp, whose son was inducted into the Youth Court back in 2011.
Leonard, who is an attorney and counselor at law out of Raymore, explained that the Cass County Youth Court has gotten significant community support since it first began, and that more support is always welcome.