Youth Traffic Court wins civics award from CityClub

October 09, 2012

Seattle Youth Traffic Court, in which law students advise high school students hearing traffic infraction cases, is among the programs recognized with a Colleen Willoughby Youth Civic Education Awards presented by CityClub.

Winners demonstrated a commitment to developing civic knowledge, skills, experience and values and represented a diverse array of civic engagement projects in our community. The issue of revitalizing civic education in Washington State is one of CityClub's strategic priorities.

"We believe we need to train our youth to be active citizens in our democracy, in order to foster the necessary confidence and skills for success in higher education and in the workforce. The six organizations receiving this award represent programs throughout the state that are doing an exemplary job of teaching civic skills," Diane Douglas, CityClub Executive Director.

The city's first youth traffic court is collaboration between Seattle University School of Law, Seattle Municipal Court, Garfield High School, Seattle University Center for Service and Community Engagement, and the Seattle Police Department. The project supports the Seattle University Youth Initiative. 

Eligible youth who receive traffic citations from the Seattle Police Department may elect to have their cases heard by this youth court.Garfield High School students take on the roles of judge, defense attorney, prosecutor and jurors.  Juries impose a sanction of community service, youth court jury service, preventative education and/or similar consequences. If defendants comply, the infraction will be dismissed and will not be reported to the Department of Licensing or appear on a defendant's driving record.

Margaret Fisher, a distinguished practitioner in residence at the law school and a national expert in youth courts, oversees the law school's involvement. Two graduates of the law school also support the program: Seattle Municipal Court Judge Karen Donohue '87 and Magistrate Lisa Leone '95,

Winners of the Colleen Willoughby Youth Civic Education Awards will be awarded a cash prize of $500 and will be honored at a reception Nov. 15 held in conjunction with the National Social Studies Conference. The Colleen Willoughby Youth Civic Education Awards are named in honor of CityClub founder, Colleen Willoughby. Winners will also share their work at the 2013 Guiding Lights Weekend and through the Seattle Times Newspapers in Education program, reaching over 35,000 teachers and students in our state.

A Blue Ribbon Committee helped promote the Youth Civic Education Awards: The Honorable Gerry Alexander (retired, Washington State Supreme Court); Toby Crittenden (Executive Director, Washington Bus); Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, (Executive Director,; Margaret Fisher (Seattle University Law Professor); Eric Liu (Founder, Guiding Lights Network); Ted McConnell (Executive Director, Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools); Walter Parker (Professor, Curriculum & Instruction, University of Washington); The Honorable Norm Rice (former Seattle Mayor and President and CEO of The Seattle Foundation); The Honorable Marilyn Strickland (Mayor of Tacoma); and Bob Watt (Community Leader).

Read more about the program.