On Friday, Aug. 17, a mock pretrial "motion to suppress"
evidentiary hearing was conducted in Courtroom 806 of the Suffolk
County Courthouse before Judge Annette Forde of the Boston
Municipal Court Department. The prosecution team consisted of
Boston Judicial Youth Corps (JYC) interns, and the defense team was
comprised of Worcester JYC interns. Forde presided over an
engaging, well-prepared and hard fought exchange between this
year's Boston and Worcester JYC interns.
Paul J. Liacos, former chief justice of the Supreme Judicial
Court, originally conceived the idea of establishing a program for
urban school students in Massachusetts to introduce these students,
and others, to the workings of our judicial branch of government.
Liacos recruited then Appeals Court Justice Roderick L. Ireland to
assist in creating this new program, and Ireland, in concert with
Joan Kenney and others from the SJC's Public Information Office,
answered the call. The model they established in 1991 has been
followed ever since in Boston, and has been duplicated for the last
six years in Worcester.
The Worcester JYC program began in 2007 and to date has
conducted internships for nearly 100 high school students, most of
whom have continued their education at the college and university
level. These interns have participated in a 12- to 14-week program
and have had the opportunity to learn about the court system and
the importance of the rule of law in our free society. The annual
four-month program has consisted of two educational components.
Beginning in mid-May and continuing through late June, the
participating high school students have attended weekly educational
sessions that introduce them to the court system in Worcester.
Judges, court staff and attorneys volunteer as guest lecturers,
covering such topics as juvenile justice, landlord-tenant issues,
family law, mediation and the appellate process. By the end of this
phase of the program students have a more informed awareness of the
five trial courts and are prepared to proceed to the second phase
of the program.
The second half of the program extends from early July through
August and consists of paid internships in various court offices in
the new state courthouse in Worcester. The interns are welcomed as
"regular employees" in clerks' offices and probation departments in
the Worcester courthouse, and are soon fielding questions from the
public at the front counter, or running folders to and from the
trial court sessions, or simply helping the office staff to catch
up on the backlog of filing and other clerical duties. For many of
the interns, this is their first experience with gainful
employment, and one that they will not soon forget!
The student-interns also attend an educational session on each
Thursday or Friday during the summer phase of the program, and
enjoy presentations by the Jury Commissioner's Office, the Public
Defenders' Office and the District Attorney's Office. Finally, the
interns prepare and present a mock trial, usually presided over by
a presiding trial court justice.
The Massachusetts Bar Foundation has been the principal source
of funding for the Worcester JYC program, and this has allowed the
Worcester program to establish itself as a visible and viable
entity in the Worcester judicial community. Efforts are now under
way to establish sources of local financial support for the
Worcester program for next year and for the years to come. The
Boston model has served Worcester well these first six years of the
Worcester JYC program. The initiatives that Worcester will soon
implement to ensure a self-sustaining and effective local program
may serve as a model to other local Massachusetts communities to do
likewise. In the process, the program continues to respond to
Liacos' challenge, as Ireland did over 20 years ago.
James Rosseel is an educator in the Worcester area who serves as
the teacher coordinator for the Massachusetts Bar
Association-administered summer Judicial Youth Corps in