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Juvenile Peer Court in Recess

Juvenile Peer Court in Recess

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SPRINGVILLE, Utah (AP) -- Springville's Juvenile Peer Court is in recess until a new person to run it is found.

The court allows juveniles accused of minor offenses to be judged and sentenced by a panel of five to seven volunteer judges ages 12-17. Juveniles tried in the special court avoid having the offense on a permanent criminal record, said Springville Justice Court Judge Dean F. Olsen.

Punishments range from community service to fines, or both. Olsen said the court has handled several hundred cases in the past seven years.

"Those are all cases that would have been referred to juvenile court," he said. "Peer court also takes some caseload off of the juvenile court and gives offenders a second chance at not having a criminal record."

An adult volunteer who works with the school district to recruit volunteer judges and runs the program has decided to step down after starting a new business.

Springville Mayor Fritz Boyer said there have also been some complaints that the peer court judges haven't remained confidential with the details of the cases they try.

"I think everyone on the City Council is in favor of continuing, but we are not in favor unless we can find some kind of person who can organize it and keep it staffed and make sure it functions property," Boyer said.

Olsen said the court, which had been convening every Thursday, could be running again within a month.

"We are just going to suspend the operation for a brief period to kind of get cases properly logged," he said. "We got behind and are trying to catch up."

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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