High school students trained to be panelists in Teen Court program

New teen court panelists from all six school districts in Buffalo and Pepin Counties were trained in restorative questioning skills and took the oath of confidentiality.

Buffalo / Pepin County Teen Court welcomed 17 new panel members at their training on April 14 at the Buffalo County Courthouse in Alma. These new panelists join another 25 other high school students already serving as peer judges. Teen Court hears over 25 cases a year across the two counties with referrals from the juvenile court, law enforcement, human services, and local schools.








Integral parts of the training included developing an understanding of the pillars of restorative justice, practicing effective and equitable questioning strategies, reviewing the hearing process and steps in deliberation, and discussing the research behind criminogenic needs.

A highlight of the training day was an opportunity to observe the Honorable Tom Clark as he presided over testimony in a jury trial. Young people learned more about court proceedings and decorum as well as modeled the questioning that was conducted. One major difference between civil court and teen court is that there is no determination of guilt in youth court. Young people with violations must admit guilt to participate in Buffalo/Pepin County Teen Court.

New teen court panelists had the opportunity to observe a jury trial presided over by the Honorable Tom Clark on April 14, 2022 in the Buffalo County Courthouse.

Throughout the training, experienced panelists coached new judges in a mock teen court hearing. They shared their perspectives, challenges and rewards serving Buffalo / Pepin County Teen Court. Panel members who assisted in facilitating the training were AJ Montreuil (Gilmanton), Sofia Sandberg (Mondovi), Kailey Herbenson (Gilmanton), and Zoey Slaby (C-FC).

The new teen court panelists that participated in training included: Ashley Bartelt (Alma), Finley Noll (Alma), Mya Stewart (Alma), Isabella Holzer (C-FC), Mya Stanton (C-FC), Corbyn Weber (C-FC), Makenzie Almsted (Durand), Kailyn Pophal (Durand), Gabrielle Schneider (Durand), Maya Weir (Durand), Alyson Turner (Gilmanton), Miriam Sandberg (Mondovi), Ella Fluekiger (Mondovi), Caitlyn Stadter (Mondovi), and Cole Arens (Pepin). Zoey Danzinger (Alma) and Claire Goeldner (virtual) will be trained soon.

The training was coordinated by Annie Lisowski and Marie Ritscher, both University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension Educators and Teen Court Co-Coordinators. The training is centered on educating high school students on utilizing restorative justice with their peers. Restorative justice is an approach that encourages an offender to change behavior; a method that has been demonstrated as most effective, especially for young people, over time. Teen Court panelists also help their peer offenders to repair their relationship with the victim, restore their image in the community and build skills that will boast their future chance at success.

To learn more about Buffalo/Pepin County Teen Court visit https://buffalo.extension.wisc.edu/4hyd/yd/teencourt/

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