Bob Buckley for The Examiner: City’s Youth Court Continues to Serve the Area Well

September 21, 2022

Bob Buckley, partner at White, Graham, Buckley & Carr, is a regular columnist for The Examiner of East Jackson County. In his latest column, Buckley educates readers about The Independence Youth Court, which Bob helped start in its early days, the purpose of reducing juvenile crime by diverting youth offenders from the juvenile justice system in the Jackson County Family Court and more.

The article, City’s Youth Court Continues to Serve the Area Well, was recently published on The Examiner website. An excerpt from the article is below.


The Independence Youth Court was created in 1985 by the Eastern Jackson CountyBarAssociation and is now co-sponsored by the Eastern Jackson County Bar Association, the Juvenile Division of the Family Court, the City of Independence, the Independence Police Department and the Independence School District. Local service organizations and the Truman Heartland Foundation contribute funding, but the court also receives substantial funding from the Jackson County Anti-Drug Tax (COMBAT).

Several lawyers in the Eastern Jackson County Bar Association, including yours truly, were involved in establishing the court in its earliest days. A motivation to participate, other than the obvious cause of creating an alternative judicial system for juvenile offenders, was that attorneys involved in the Youth Court were able to avoid Family Court appointments but found the experience to be rewarding.

The primary mission of the Independence Youth Court is to reduce juvenile crime by diverting youth offenders from the juvenile justice system in the Jackson County Family Court, and further contact with police. The cases heard in Youth Court are harassment, trespassing, shoplifting, curfew violation, disorderly conduct, vandalism, assault, truancy, minor in possession of alcohol and narcotics possession.

Youth Court is a peer court, which means that juvenile offenders are given the choice of appearing in that court or going to the Jackson County Family Court at 625 East 26th Street in Kansas City, Missouri. Having been appointed to represent individuals in the Jackson County Family Court on multiple occasions, I can tell you that appearing in a courtroom in Independence is much better than having to travel to the Family Court in Kansas City.

The offenders are tried, judged, defended and convicted or found not guilty by a court made up of other juveniles. The court has guidelines established by adults and adults are available to monitor the proceedings. However, the youths selected to serve in the court make the final decisions.

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