Want to...
Settle Disputes Without a Fight?

Feature Story ...

Los Angeles, Calif. -- Check into the jury room at Wilson High, where peers judge and sentence each other. Stakes are high and emotions run deep when you have to make a decision to discipline a schoolmate.

Six people, one verdict. Six people, one sentence. It's not easy. It takes all the tools: listening, evaluating, deliberating, coming to consensus -- and making one decision. Every verdict teaches a lesson; every sentence shows the power of sharing information and reviewing it with a critical eye.

Want to deliberate instead of talking about it?

Check out Teen Court; you be the judge.

Contact ...

Laurell Schwenker
Wilson High School
4500 Multnomah St.
Los Angeles, CA 90032

How To ...


Desperately seeking consensus? Try the gospel according to the Transboundary Initiative:
  • Go slow. This is a laboratory for learning.
  • Involve all affected interests.
  • Respect different political cultures in developing a common agenda.
  • Develop a common vocabulary.
  • Expect initial ideas to change as more parties become involved.
  • Respect financial constraints of other participants.
  • Recognize the contributions of all participants and share the credit.
  • Determine how existing legal or regulatory approaches can be enhanced.
  • Start small and build on success.
  • Know that the process is dynamic and evolves as more people, governments and ideas are incorporated along the way.


For more information about seeking consensus contact:
Larry Spears
North Dakota Consensus Council
1003 Interstate Ave., Suite 7
Bismarck, ND 58501

Tune In ...

Teen Court: Trial by peer

In Los Angeles, students at Wilson High School sit in judgment of their peers: first-time teen offenders under the supervision of a Superior Court judge.

In a Teen Court trial there is no evidence, witnesses or attorneys. The trial operates on rhetoric: The jury must be able to ask the right questions, and the defendant must be able to explain his or her actions.

The choices aren't easy and sentences -- for example, 50 hours of community service for vandalism, curfew violation, assault or some other charge -- aren't light. Teen court verdicts, in fact, have been criticized as unduly harsh and some judges don't put a limit on the punishment. It's up to the students to decide what's fair, what's just. But part of the sentence is the opportunity to come back and be a juror.

"It was kind of tough, sitting down in the front of the whole audience," says one student who stood trial and returned later for juror duty.

"Everybody is staring at you and everybody is asking you questions and you got to answer back, you know, the truth."

WelcomeAbout The American PromiseVisitor's GuideTeaching Guide
Teacher's ForumNewsletter ArchiveReferences + LinksContact UsHome
©2002 Farmers Insurance. All rights reserved.
Site Design: The Coyote Studio