Seven Teen Court volunteers compete and bring home bronze in their first public appearance.
Wentworth, NC (April 28, 2023) – Justice will be served well in Rockingham County if Teen Court volunteers are on the job. Seven Rockingham County School students brought home an overall third place in the recent state competition. The Teen Court Summit, hosted in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, was the first time Rockingham County Teen Court volunteers competed in such a competition.
“Attending the Teen Court Summit was an invaluable opportunity that left me feeling grateful and inspired… I was moved by the sight of so many individuals from different programs who shared a passion for restorative justice.” Thomas Blackstock, a Junior at Rockingham County Early College said following the event.
The mock trial competition, conducted by the North Carolina Teen Court Association, pits county teams against one another in simulated courtrooms. Judges and Juries are placed to ensure strict rules are followed and to score participants. Each team is given the same case narrative and evidence and is charged with formulating their open statements, closing arguments, and line of questioning.
“I can’t put into words how extremely proud I am of this team,” said Teen Court Coordinator Tammy Burbey when asked about the preparation and teamwork throughout the experience. “Each of them contributed their hearts and talents to make this a successful mock trial competition.”
The Teen Court program is sponsored by Rockingham County Youth Services. The program allows student volunteers an opportunity to try and defend cases while also serving as an alternative to Juvenile Justice involvement for first-time offenders. Student volunteers hear defendant’s admit guilt before a jury of their peers and accept the jury’s recommendations.
Youth Services would like to extend its gratitude to Assistant District Attorney Mike Davis, Sgt. Tammy Ferguson, Deputy Richard Payne and Angela Austin from the Clerk’s office for their help in training the volunteers prior to the Summit. Youth Services recently added a new opportunity for Rockingham County teens with Teen Traffic Court, in partnership with the Rockingham County District Attorney’s Office.
The following seven student volunteers competed against 13 teams from across North Carolina.
Colby Gunter: 12th grade, Rockingham County High School, served as Prosecutor #1 (Pictured below: individual award winner for best attorney in trial)
Andrew Rash: 11th grade, Rockingham County High School, served as the Defendant
Isaiah Valdez: 11th grade, Rockingham County High School, served as the Bailiff
Thomas Blackstock: 11th grade, Early College, served as Prosecutor #2
Will Attaway: 11th grade, Rockingham High School, served as Defense #1
Cassie Brown: 11th grade, Rockingham County High School, served as Defense #2 (Pictured below: individual awards for best attorney in trial, and best overall Defense Attorney)
Audrey Seiler: 11th grade, Early College, served as Clerk
Tammy Burbey: Teen Court Coordinator, Rockingham County Youth Services