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How do I qualify to be a Youth Court Attorney?

What does an attorney volunteer do?

A student who may qualify to become involved as an attorney must:

  1. Apply to join the volunteer attorney program, by filling out an application provided through your school or School Resource Officer. Bring that application, signed by your parent, with you to the first night of training. With applying you are registered to receive training.

  2. You must be in the 8th grade or higher

  3. You must have and maintain a "C" minimum.

  4. You must have good school attendance and no discipline violations.

  5. Attend the training program

  6. And finally, pass the bar exam and be sworn in as an attorney.

What does a Volunteer Attorney do?

Cases referred to the Independence Youth Court come from the Independence Police Department.  These are real cases that involve juveniles currently up to the age of 18.  The offenses may include stealing, disorderly conduct, vaping/smoking, drug offenses, and other criminal situations.  Since they are real cases but involve juveniles they may be handled through Independence Youth Court to avoid having a permanent record in Jackson County Family Court. This is called a Diversion Program.

Youth Court is modeled after an adult court, it gives the juvenile a feeling of what it is like to be represented in court by a Defense Attorney, prosecuted by a Prosecuting Attorney, and before a Juvenile Judge,  Only the defendant, and their parents are allowed in the courtroom for their case.  We promise to keep all juvenile cases confidential.  No attorney is allowed EVER to speak of cases that come through Youth Court with anyone outside of Youth Court at any time.


The defendant is then given a sentence of community service hours and usually an educational program to attend. Should the defendant request a trial (wishes to plead "Not Guilty") then a trial will take place, with witnesses for both defense and prosecution in the courtroom to testify about their case. Only when the defendant has completed their sentence and turns the age of 18 can their file then be destroyed.

As a Volunteer Attorney, you will be trained in the responsibilities of participating as a Bailiff, Court Clerk, Prosecution, and Defense Attorney.  Upon becoming a Senior, you will receive even further training, you may serve as an actual Judge. The attorney training itself is conducted by Judge Susan Watkins, Executive Director along with Adult Attorneys and Law Enforcement Officers.

Court usually takes place on the Second and Fourth Thursdays of the month. You will be expected to arrive by 5:00 pm to prepare for court.  You will be assigned a position in the courtroom based on the Executive Directors instructions. If a trial is to take place it is put on the next court docket and you will receive guidance from an actual adult Attorney as to how to proceed in the courtroom. The court sessions are usually over around 8:00 pm.  We will try to let you know a more specific time based on the size of that night's docket, so you can notify your parents when to pick you up.

Youth Court has established a Scholarship Fund for college.  We have given many scholarships to Volunteer Attorneys who have served in the Program.  This of course involves the hours volunteered, GPA and an application for the scholarship.

I hope this answers some questions about our Attorney Volunteers.  If you have more specific questions before making your decision to apply for training, please call the office.  The Youth Court office at 816-325-7750 or Kim 816-325-7107 will be happy to answer any questions you might have.

We need volunteers to operate the program and we hope to see you at Training!

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