Friday, April 6, 2012

Teen attorney shares goals

This week in Young Achievers, we learned about a group of teens who participate in Assistance League’s Mecklenburg County Teen Court - an alternative justice system for first-time youthful offenders, ages 10 to 15.

Youth offenders are granted a second chance when they admit guilt and agree to be tried and sentenced by teens in the teen court program. By successfully completing the teen court hearing and sentence requirements, the offender avoids a permanent criminal conviction for the crime committed.

Get to know an attorney:
Here, we learn more from teen attorney Tiffany Adams, 14, a sophomore at Davidson Day.

Q: How long have you been a part of teen court?
I have been participating in teencourt for about four or five years now, and have been an attorney for almost two years.

Q: What is the most challenging aspect of teen court?
As a Teen Court attorney, the most challenging part of this program is that it tests your skills. Just like an actual attorney, you must be able to process information and react quickly, think on your feet, you must have good communication skills and be able to interact with people.

Q: How did you first become interested in the program?
My mom received a flyer in the mail about it and showed it to me, and I'd figured I would try it out. I was into the Law and Order-type shows back then, and I wanted to be able to go into a courtroom and see what it was like!

Q: What have you learned from the program?
I have learned so much, and still am! You learn the consequences of certain actions and you get to learn from the mistakes that the defendants have made, while helping them to do the same. It's a learning process for both the volunteers and the defendants. You learn from each other!

Q: Do you plan to pursue law?
I am definitely considering it, but I’m not positive. I’m considering something that has more to do with politics than actual criminal defense, but I don’t have a certain career path mapped out.

Q: How difficult is it to defend or prosecute students your age on the stand?
In the beginning, it is a little difficult - and honestly, a little scary when you have to go up in front of the courtroom because it's something that you aren't used to. However, after you get some experience all of that goes away, I don't even get nervous anymore!
There will be some difficult cases where the defendant isn't very remorseful, or there really isn't much for you to work with as an attorney. But if you look at the difficult parts of the case as a challenge and not focus on the negative, your overall performance in the courtroom will improve.

Q: What is a fun fact about yourself?
I love to have fun, so I laugh a lot. Whether it’s joking around with my fellow teen court attorneys, at school, or at home, I can always laugh at myself and always find something funny in a situation.

Q: Do you have a motto in life that you tend to live by?
"Do one thing every day that scares you." By Eleanor Roosevelt. I try to live by that quote. I try to take advantage of all the chances I have because I don't like to regret not doing something if I've had the opportunity to do it.

Q: How can other kids in the community be successful?
The easiest way to put it is to be involved. You can’t get anything done without getting yourself out there and getting involved with your community and school. You aren’t going to be successful in what you’re doing if you just sit back and watch.

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