Trial by Peers starts June 16 and ends August 11


Sheetal Survase

TBP Participants shown with Judge Lloyd D. George, appointed United States District Judge for the District of Nevada by President Ronald Reagan in May 1984. George has worked with Trial By Peers in the past.

Caroline Hsu, editor

Starting June 16, Faith Lutheran High School and Middle School students have the opportunity to participate in a program called Trials By Peers, a program designed as an alternative for first time offenders.

Trial By Peers allows teens to try, represent, and sentence other teens from all over Las Vegas with minor charges. Participants are exposed to a real court case and participate in one of their own.

“[We] accept cases of youth between 12-17 that are charged with first-time misdemeanors, such as trespassing, harassment, and theft,” said Sheetal Survase, Trial By Peers coordinator, via email.

Summer training runs from June 16 through August 11 on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, from 5:30-7:30 PM. Training takes place at the Lloyd D. George U.S Federal Courthouse on 333 Las Vegas Blvd South.

“When students sign up for cases either as prosecution or defense, they work in groups of two through four, along with which they will assigned a mentor licensed attorney to help them from the day they receive their cases to the day they present their cases in court. Groups are not organized by age, but by experience. So, we would pair a new student volunteer with a more experienced volunteer,” said Survase, via email. “As we try real cases in teen court, student volunteers must successfully complete our summer course training taught by Nevada’s leading judges and attorneys.”

After being trained by Nevada’s own attorneys, participants become the judges, lawyers, and jurors.

Trial By Peers offers students a chance to have involvement in the world of actual law.

“It’s not like Mock Trial or Mock United Nations,” said Julie Buuck, Director of Student Life. “It’s real.”

2015 marks the third year of Faith Lutheran’s participation in TBP. Schools such as Bishop Gorman, Advanced Technology Academy (A-Tech) and Clark High School, will join Faith students in this program.

Active member and junior, Hunter Kascur signed up due to his interest in law and advocacy.

“[Trials By Peers gives] peer counselors like myself to gain hands-on legal experience and to serve the community,” said Kascur.

Senior Ashley Keaton signed up knowing Trial By Peers would benefit herself learning about a career in law. With TBP, she has already advocated fourteen cases in the program.

“I have yet to find a person who hasn’t told me [Trials By Peers] has really changed the way they see the law, and has had them make for careful decisions. It’s really motivating to hear from them, and that’s why I stick with it,” said Keaton.

Eighth grader, Nate Gulla, first joined TBP to strengthen his skills in law and public speaking.

“I have been in Trial By Peers for about a year now. The fact that children and teens are able to defend real juveniles in real court is amazing. TBP is also the only thing like this in our country to offer both guilty and non guilty pleas,” said Gulla.

Interested students can print out the form on the announcements through their school email, and turn the form in to Mrs. Buuck. Though training starts June 16, it is recommended to turn in the form on June 10. An information meeting will be announced for an exact day and time. Students who have questions can visit the Trial By Peers website, www.TrialByPeers.org.