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Teen court seeks help

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Reach for Youth, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that oversees teen court programs in Marion and Johnson counties and over 250 teen court volunteers, must raise $15,000 by March 1 to keep afloat.

Indianapolis attorney and board member Jimmie McMillian, who has been involved for nine years and has volunteered as a judge in teen court, is asking people to give at least $10, which he said can make a difference for the "pee wee league for the legal profession."

Teen court is a diversion program for juveniles accused of non-violent crimes. Their peers - volunteers age 10-17 - serve as attorneys and jurors. Participants in teen court are mentored by lawyers and law school students. Juvenile offenders often become involved with teen court as volunteers, while offender and non-offender volunteers may ultimately decide to become attorneys.

"For kids in our community who have an interest in the law, this helps them in a very real way," he said. "If that doesn't inspire attorneys, I don't know what will."

(Indiana Lawyer published a story about teen court programs around Indiana in the Dec. 13 - 26, 2006, issue, "A jury of their peers.")

Reach for Youth is also waiting for responses about grants they've applied for. Because it remains unknown when they will receive grant money or how much they will receive, every bit helps, he said.

"Our staff took a 10 percent pay cut," he added. "We have already been reducing staff, cutting back cutting back cutting back, and now we're at bare bones."

In response to his initial e-mail sent in early February, McMillian has received a few donations and at least nine calls from parents asking how their children can get involved.

Anyone interested in learning more about Reach for Youth or getting involved may contact Christopher Nunn, Reach for Youth Inc., 3505 N. Washington Blvd., Indianapolis, IN 46208. Checks may be made payable to "Reach for Youth, Inc."

The organization can also accept donations by credit card. Call Nunn at (317) 920-5900. The Web site for Reach for Youth, Inc. is http://www.reachforyouth.org.

When asked what would happen if the organization doesn't raise $15,000, McMillian said, "The board hasn't made a decision yet. I'm looking at this like I'm going to get this money. I'm not entertaining failure. ... I can't believe we can't get $15,000 out of the Indianapolis legal community."

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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