Vance teens nab top honors

May. 30, 2014 @ 05:29 PM

Two Vance County students walked away with top honors at the North Carolina Teen Court Association’s annual summit in April.

Emonee Glover, a junior at Southern Vance High School, won the award for best defense lawyer in mock trial competition.

Tyree Green, a junior at Northern Vance High School, was designated best bailiff.

The two budding jurists were part of a nine-person Vance County Teen Court team that participated in the competition. Other members of the team were Daijon Branch and Michael Rush III, Northern Vance High School; Nisia Superville and Chyna Hargrove, Eaton-Johnson Middle School; Kaija Richardson and Robert Foster, Henderson Collegiate; and Mya Hargrove, Vance County Early College High School.

Greg Kelly, youth outreach coordinator for the youth services division of the Henderson-Vance Recreation Department, coordinates the Teen Court program and accompanied the team to the competition. State Rep. Nathan Baskerville also attended.

“We started getting ready for the competition in February,” he said. “They worked for two hours twice a week to get ready for the April competition. Nathan Baskerville was a big help working with the kids.”

The North Carolina Teen Court Association’s 16th annual summit was held at the Hilton Garden Inn at Raleigh-Durham/Research Triangle Park on April 11-13. The Vance County team competed against 16 other teams from around the state in the three-day event.

“It was an actual trial,” Kelly said. “We were given a scenario of a kid who was charged with second-degree trespass and communicating a threat.”

Glover and Hargrove served as the defense team.

Teams were graded on how well they presented opening and closing arguments, objections they made or failed to make, and other aspects of the trial process.

Vance County Teen Court, in its fourth year, gives young people who have committed misdemeanors an opportunity to avoid having a charge on their records. A teenager charged with a misdemeanor such as shoplifting, fighting or damaging property can choose to be tried in Teen Court rather than in juvenile court. The accused will be prosecuted by a teen, defended by a teen and judged guilty or not guilty by a jury of teens.

If the teen jury finds the accused guilty, the sentence could include community service, restitution, an apology, counseling or a combination of sanctions. Successful completion of the sentence means that the youth will not have a criminal record.

Only the judge is an adult. Baskerville and District Court Judge Amanda Stevenson alternate in that role.

Vance County Teen Court meets at 5:30 p.m. on first and third Tuesdays of the month in the Vance County Courthouse.

The team seemed to thrive on the competition the summit  provided and from the interaction with Teen Court participants from other counties.

“The kids are ready to go back next year,” Kelly said.

Contact the writer at dirvine@hendersondispatch.com.