In Bethlehem's Youth Court competition, all are winners

BC senior takes home $250 scholarship

For Bethlehem Central senior John Hartunian, a fictional Facebook photo led to financial aid.

He is this year's recipient of the $250 Bethlehem Youth Court Advocacy Scholarship, which was awarded at the group's second Law Day celebration on Wednesday, May 25.

Hartunian and two other seniors in the Youth Court program, Matthew Weber and Caitlin Willey, presented arguments on a fictional case involving a teen who allegedly stole and defaced a street sign. Using that basic scenario, they were free to add their own details and then play the part of a prosecuting or defending attorney for three judges: Adrienne Foederer, law clerk to U.S. Magistrate Judge David Homer; Gene Primomo, assistant federal defender and a Bethlehem Youth Court board member; and Connie Mayer, associate dean at Albany Law School and a BYC board member.

The judges felt Hartunian made the most convincing arguments, and praised him for submitting fictional evidence gleaned from Facebook in his arguments. But all three of the speakers made excellent oral arguments, said Primomo, and as a result of Youth Court are better prepared for whatever life brings next.

Now the next thing, whether it's a college presentation or a job interview...it's going to serve you well, Primomo said. "You've given yourself a life lesson."

Hartunian will be attending Villanova University next year at the School of Business.

Bethlehem Youth Court is, as the name implies, a student-run court that metes out punishments for juvenile offenders, usually in the form of community service. This year, there are 57 students in BC and RCS schools trained as members of the court, who rotate through the positions of attorneys, judges, and court clerks.

The juries are also made up of students, so offenders are truly judged by a jury of their peers.

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