Lufkin program gives students courtroom experience

Published: Sep. 22, 2023 at 7:00 PM CDT
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LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - The City of Lufkin held its first Teen Court information session Friday to give volunteer students the opportunity to learn how the judicial system works.

Lufkin City Attorney, Kristi Skillern said the students will handle class C misdemeanors which include traffic tickets, speeding, and having no driver’s license.

“We’re training the kids that wants to be the lawyers, either the prosecutor or the defense lawyer, or the bailiff, or serve on the teen jury,” said Skillern.

“It is a real court room and these defendants have opted to go and have their case heard in Teen Court, so we will train them. They will present the case as the prosecutor and the defense attorney and then the teen jury will decide the sentence,” she said.

The cases being presented to the students have already pled guilty or no contest.

“They will get community service hours, and they also have accountability because they have to serve on a teen jury in the future as part of their sentence. If they do all this within 90 days, it will be dismissed and not on their record at all,” Skillern said.

Pineywoods Community Academy ninth grader Mckenna Hooks said she’s excited to participate in Teen Court.

“I have always been interested in becoming a lawyer and there’s some things that happened within the past year or two that, it really made me want to be a criminal defense lawyer,” said Hooks.

She said she expects to gain knowledge that will help her be more prepared.

“Give me an advantage compared to other kids that might not be able to participate in this,” said Hooks.

Lufkin Juvenile Case Manager Cara Blair said she’ll work to keep the teen volunteers on track.

“I’m just looking forward to the growth and the ability to educate and learn,” said Blair.

Skillern said student volunteers are expected to attend real court for the first time October 23. At the end of the school year, student volunteers will receive reference letters and awards.