Twenty-nine high school students received certificates noting
their completion of the 2016 Judicial Youth Corps (JYC) program at
the Corps' annual Appreciation Day on August 11. They were given
praise, along with valuable advice, from speakers, including
Supreme Judicial Court Associate Justice Geraldine S. Hines, Past
Massachusetts Bar Association (MBA) President Robert Harnais,
Massachusetts Bar Foundation (MBF) President Janet Aserkoff and
Of the 29, 19 students were from Boston area high schools, and
10 were from Worcester. This year marked the 25th year overall that
the JYC has been active, and 10 years since the Worcester area
schools joined in. The MBA has run the Worcester program since its
inception with financial support from the MBF. This year, for the
first time, the Worcester program also received funding from the
Worcester County District Attorney's Office.
The two regional groups faced off in a mock trial to start the
day, going through all the regular proceedings of a trial, with
pointers and instructions coming from presiding Judge Jonathan
Tynes of the Boston Municipal Court, where necessary. The fictional
trial - a murder case - had Boston students defending an elderly
man who had shot dead his son-in-law, claiming self-defense. Both
parties sought to carefully navigate the intense emotional
landscape of the case in constructing their arguments, all while
adhering to the appropriate proceedings and conduct of trial. The
trial ran too long for the jury to engage in a full deliberation,
and a quick survey by Boston JYC Coordinator and Boston Latin
School Associate Headmaster Gerald Howland, who sat among the jury,
found them split down the middle.
The opposing parties then converged and made their way to the
John Adams Courthouse, where they were addressed first by Hines,
who said she "look[s] forward to bragging about your
accomplishments in the future" as JYC graduates move boldly through
their budding careers.
"You can fully embrace new challenges without the fear of
failure," she said, "or you can escape the fear - you can break
through it, doing what you know you were called to do. … We and
your parents have given you roots and wings, and it's now time for
you to fly."
Harnais also described the JYC as a guiding force for those
destined to be involved in the legal profession, whether as lawyers
"You have an incredible opportunity," Harnais said. "The
experience you're having right now could open up many doors. Take
this knowledge, and let it bring you in the direction you're meant
to go. … The MBA is proud to be a part of this."
He also offered simple but important advice to the
"Love the law," he said, adding, "This is an incredible
Harnais' counterpart at the MBF praised the youths for aligning
themselves with the court system - what she called "an important
American system for change."
"You all chose to do this program this year," Aserkoff said,
"and I hope that you have been inspired by this to devote some
portion of your life, whether it's your working life or your
citizen life, to support our judiciary system. It's such a vital
and important part of how we function as a society.
"On behalf of the Foundation, we look forward to continuing to
participate in and support this program in the years ahead, and we
thank all of you for your participation," she said.
Howland advised the students of the JYC to treat every opponent
as a worthy opponent.
"Treat them respectfully, and you'll have a better trial because
of it," he said.
He went on to praise the individuals throughout the Suffolk
County court system who mentor and educate student participants for
free. These mentors are "where the strength of this program truly
"This is a program that is able to happen because of the support
of many people, and I've found that people in the legal field more
than any other are willing to take that extra step to help somebody
out along the way."
A handful of students stood to personally thank their mentors
for the opportunities they provided, such as Alexis Thomas from
Cathedral High School in Boston's South End, who assisted in jury
selection every morning at Suffolk Superior Court, or Ivan Andrade,
a Boston Community Leadership Academy student with aspirations to
be a detective, who thanked court officials for helping to hone his
discipline and objectivity.
Before the certificates were handed out, two student speakers
were invited to give their perspectives on the influence of the
JYC, including Anicia Gillespie of Kents Hill School in Maine, who
reflected on her encounters with many prestigious personalities in
the state's judicial and political scenes, and Tal Usvyatsky from
Worcester's Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science, who said
that working in the courts inspires "a new type of personal
"You feel responsible for helping other people with any type of
problem they might have," she said. "You feel responsible for
resolving the practical matters but you also feel a very new type
of responsibility for the community - for helping in the
overarching, broader issues that will help the community at large.
… In that way, this program turns us into conscientious members of
the community and into mindful people as well."