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Students hit the courtroom

Committee members to speak at upcoming conference

Malcolm Gorrill
Northern News Services

Inuvik (Jan 25/02) - Amanda Johns has learned a lot since joining the Youth Judicial Advisory Committee.

Twelve members of the committee at any one time oversee some youth court cases. They also advise the judge on what punishment should be meted out.

NNSL Photo

Samuel Hearne students Amanda Johns, left, and Dennis Dosedel will make a presentation at the upcoming Regional Justice Conference. The students will speak on the Youth Judicial Advisory Committee, to which they both belong. - Malcolm Gorrill/NNSL photo

"We sit in the jury box and we watch what goes on," Johns explained.

"Unlike a jury, it's not unanimous. So we just sort of make a majority vote on what we think should be the sentence, and advise the judge."

Johns said that real life court isn't like television shows like "Law and Order."

"It's not like TV. It shows you the way things really go on," Johns said.

"It opens up your eyes."

The committee came into being about two years ago and consists of students at Samuel Hearne. The panel meets about every two weeks and is made up of 12 committee members. Members take turns serving.

Johns explained that only students in good standing are able to go, and they need permission from their teachers.

Soon Johns and fellow committee member Dennis Dosedel, along with Judge Brian Bruser, will make a presentation on the committee. The occasion is the regional justice conference which takes place Feb. 5-7 at the Midnight Sun Recreation Complex.

Delegates will attend from Inuvik, Paulatuk, Tsiigehtchic, Fort McPherson, Aklavik, Tuktoyaktuk, Holman and Sachs Harbour. One of the organizers is John Nash, co-ordinator of the Inuvik Justice Committee.

Nash explained the purpose is to explain what restorative justice is and offer ideas on how people can start up justice committees in their communities.

The conference features a number of presenters and group discussions. The presentation by Johns and Dosedel is slated for Feb. 7.

Nash said the youth judicial advisory committee is working well.

"It's great to have those kids there in youth court. It gives those kids great experience," Nash said.

He pointed out taking part in the committee might give the students insights into possible career choices.