Court is in session

Teen Court made changes after going back online because of rising COVID-19 cases.


Hanna Carberry-Simmering

Kaelyn Rosa (‘24) works on her schoolwork during her ranch class.

Hanna Carberry-Simmering, staff reporter

Teen Court on Sept. 4, started back up on Zoom. With rising COVID-19 cases they delayed plans to meet in person until November. Teen Court helps juveniles who admit to being guilty and want fewer consequences. Juveniles who are eligible will have charges dropped and instead must do community service and other consequences that are decided by the jury in the hearing. Randy Holm has been working with Pasco County Teen Court since 2007 and was promoted to Supervisor of the Program in 2015. 

“We receive our cases from multiple referring agencies. The most common agencies we receive referrals from are local Law Enforcement agencies, the State Attorney’s Office or Juvenile Court. The vast majority of our cases are assigned to Teen Court in lieu of having to appear in Pasco County Juvenile Court. As long as the defendant completes our program their charge is either dismissed or not filed at all,” Holm said. 

 Teen Court is made up of high school volunteers. Normally the volunteers would be able to be Defense Attorneys, Prosecuting Attorneys, Bailiff, Clerk, and Jurors. Unfortunately, with Teen Court being all over Zoom they are only able to have volunteers be the Jurors. They will be able to assign consequences like community service, letter of apology, a curfew, counseling, jury duty, etc. Kaelyn Rosa (‘24) feels Teen Court can make an impact on not only herself, but other students too. 

“I think it will help me make a decision on what I want to do in life. If I really like it maybe, I’ll become a lawyer. It will also teach me more about laws. It provides a great way for students to get their charges dropped if they participate in Teen Court. It also shows the volunteers some of the consequences you can get if you break the law,” Rosa said. 

Teen Court influenced others in the past to choose a career in law after high school. One of the Teen Court Judges today was once a high school volunteer. Students learn more about the laws and how courts run, and they also earn volunteer hours. “One of the things students like most is that they earn community service hours for each session they attend. Students also have the opportunity to network with local attorneys and Judges from our circuit. In the 14 years I have been with Teen Court, I have seen multiple students that have graduated college and law school and now practice law here in Pasco County,” Holmes said. 

Court always starts at 5 p.m. every other Tuesday and is usually expected to end around Teen Court is one of the many ways to earn volunteer hours while learning about something interesting and something that could potentially turn into a career over time. Students can join by filling out an application from Mr. Dalson in portable 7.