How does our community go about starting a youth court?

The following recommendations and advice are offered by Margaret Fisher of the Washington State Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), Court Services unit:

There are many resources to help you and your communities get started.  A good place to start is with the National Youth Court Center Web site: Click the Publications link on the left of the Home page to view listings of materials helpful for starting a youth court.

Most of the publications at are available to download for free.  Ms. Fisher is the author of several of the listed publications, and particularly recommends the following publications:

An additional recommended publication is available to download for free directly from the American Bar Association: Youth Cases for Youth Courts. This publication provides advice and recommendations from the field on what cases to take, and not to take.

Attached at the bottom of this answer are several documents prepared by Ms. Fisher together with Pam Inglesby, Public Legal Education Manager for the Washington State Bar Association. These documents are designed to provide "Need to Know " recommendations for each of the following stake holder's role in the youth court:

  • Judges.
  • Prosecutors.
  • Juvenile Probation Officers.
  • School Administrators.
  • Law Enforcement.
  • Community Organizations.
  • Youth.

A key question to consider when setting up a youth court is:  What type of cases will my youth court be hearing? 

  • Juvenile diversion?
  • Traffic court?
  • Truancy?
  • School rule violation?

The answer to this question will determine which stake holders you will need to involve in establishing the youth court.

Ms. Fisher welcomes the opportunity to talk with you about your interest in starting a youth court and to share the experiences of Washington State's efforts with youth courts. She may be contacted by mail, e-mail, or telephone:

Ms. Margaret Fisher
Washington State Administrative Office of the Courts
Court Services Unit
P.O. Box 41170
Olympia, WA 98504-1170
(206) 329-2690.

See also: Washington State Council on Public Legal Education.

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