Age 13-18 Courtroom Guide
Hello, I am the person with whom you will stay until it is safe to go home. Sometimes I am a relative. Sometimes I am a foster parent. Sometimes I represent a group home. It is my job to let the Judge know how you are doing in placement, tell him or her if I have any concerns and ask for any help that you may need. I will be answering the questions asked to me by the judge or attorneys truthfully based on everything that I know. If you don’t agree with what I say, you shouldn’t just yell that out in court. Quietly let your GAL or attorney know and listen to what he or she says to do next. After the hearing, if you want to talk to me about anything that happened, or anything that was said, we can talk about it then.
Hello, I am the Children & Youth Case Worker. By the time we get into the courtroom, you will probably have met with me several times. My job is to make certain that you and your family are safe and well. In court, I will present information to the Judge explaining why the agency is involved with your family. It is also my job to provide information regarding the services your family needs and any progress that you all have made. Unfortunately, sometimes progress is not made, and children cannot safely go home. When that happens, I need to recommend to the judge the next best permanency plan for you. The part of my job that deals with permanency plans happens outside of court. I work with your parents and you to create a plan that makes your home a safe and healthy place for you.
Hello, I am the Court Clerk. It’s my job to help the judge as needed during the hearing. If the judge doesn’t write out his or her own court orders, I’m the person responsible for making sure that everything that the judge orders is written down correctly. That document is called a court order. The court order is pretty important. It lets everyone know what needs to happen next and what the judge will ask about at the next hearing. It includes all the things that will either keep you safe or help you be healthy and well. You should get a copy of your court order so that you know what everyone is supposed to be doing.
Hello, I am the Court Crier. It is my job to officially announce the case and who is in the courtroom. I am also present to help the judge in any way needed.
Hello, I am the Court Reporter. It is my job to make sure what people say is recorded. Everything that happens in Court must be recorded, so I am responsible for making sure that every word that is said is written down in a transcript. The transcript is the official word for the document that records what was said in court. It helps me when everyone who speaks aloud in the courtroom speaks clearly and at a normal pace. You won’t have to talk to me since I’m not the one asking the questions.
GAL: Hello. I am the Guardian ad Litem. The judge appointed me to represent you. I am an attorney and your legal voice in court. I will help you understand what is going on in the courtroom and will ask questions of the witness in court to make sure the judge knows all the important information about how you and your family are doing and what you need. After the judge hears all the important information, I will make a recommendation. That means I will tell the judge what I think you need and, if you don’t want to tell the judge what you want to see ordered, I will tell that to the judge for you. Many times what I think is best for you and what you want to see happen are the same but sometimes, they are different. Even if I don’t agree with you, I will still tell the judge what you want too. If you have a question for me during the hearing, first get my attention and then ask me very quietly. I will meet with you and with others who know about how you are doing outside of court so that I know what things you need to be healthy or to be safe.
Hello, I am the Juvenile Court Judge. I am the person responsible for deciding some really important things in your life. I will decide whether or not you are a dependent youth. Being dependent means that you and your family need the supervision of the court to make certain you are safe and someone is taking good care of you. It is also my responsibility to decide where you will live. If you can stay in your home with some supportive services and be safe and well while getting all the things that you need to be healthy, you may remain there. If you can’t, there are other places that you can stay temporarily. It is also my responsibility to make sure everyone is doing their jobs or the things that I have asked them to do. I will ask about these things during the court hearing. I am also interested in hearing from you during the hearing. If I ask you anything or if you want to speak to me, make sure to tell me the truth. I need to know what is really happening so that I make good decisions for you and your family. If you would like to speak to me, be sure to let your GAL or attorney know. They know all about the rules in the courtroom and can help you.
Hello, I am the attorney appointed to represent your mom and dad. It is my job to tell the judge what your parents want to see happen and help them get any services that they need. I want to make sure your home is safe and that they can take care of you so that you can either stay in your home or you can go back home to live. Sometimes I have a colleague — someone who does the same job that I do — represent one of your parents while I represent the other. Usually this happens when parents are not married or living together and want different things. I won’t be talking to you very much since I represent your parents. Lawyers have rules about whom they can and cannot talk with outside of the courtroom. If you have any questions about your case, you should ask your GAL or lawyer. In the courtroom, I may decide to ask you a question. If I do, you should just answer the question truthfully. If you don’t understand my question, you should tell me that you don’t understand and I will ask it another way.
Hello, I am the Sheriff. Sometimes people in the courtroom get upset. I am here to maintain order and make sure everyone is safe.
Hello, I am the attorney that represents the Children & Youth Agency. It is my job to present any concerns the Agency has regarding your safety. In court I will also suggest services you and your family need to make things safe for you to return to your home. If you cannot safely return to your home, it is my job to present the Agency’s plan for making sure you have a good, safe place to live. I will talk to your caseworker most often, because he or she is my client. Sometimes I will ask questions of other people in the courtroom.