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District Court Teams: Fight for the Top

By Karxyriah Ashley

Hard-work, preparation, and dedication. At the 72nd Annual Youth and Government State

Conference held in Austin, 41 Judicial District Court Teams from schools all over Texas came together to compete for a chance to go to Nationals.

Throughout the day, the blood, sweat, and tears that each team put into preparing the court case was showcased during mock trials.

Although, by just watching the trial, the sheer difficulty of playing a witness, attorney, or bailiff, might go unnoticed, it has been a long and hard road for many teams to get to this point.

One team from Dripping Springs High School had months of morning practices and even did last minute practicing in the elevator to make sure they were even more prepared.

Even though, due to scheduling, they had to do a lot of individual and last minute practicing, “in the end we pulled it all together,” said delegate Gabriel Peeples from Dripping Springs.

“Based off the critiques from the trials we’ve been in I think we have a good chance of going [to Nationals],” said Peeples.

For Peeples, the hardest part about this year’s case was “clearing up with the attorneys a lot of different questions and how to answer if the opposing team asks unexpected questions.”

However, overall, “I enjoyed working on this case because there’s a lot of different angles and ways to approach it at for either team,” said Peeples.

Another hard-working team from Hays High School had began meeting in August to “go over the case, read through the affidavits, and come up with questions for defense and prosecution attorneys so we could help each other,” said Preston Jones.

“The hardest part Isn’t always going over the facts but thinking about what is the other team going to say or what someone else is going to think of that we have never met before,” said Nick Muller of Hays High School.

However, after all is said and done, “I personally enjoyed working on this case because it was a lot more challenging for the prosecution and that made it more interesting, said Jones.

Although every team can’t be in the top, no matter what happens ever team competed today knowing they performed to the best of their ability.

2019-01-26T16:17:11-05:00January 26th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Delegates Mingle After a Long Day of Hard Work

By Sarah Roy

After a full day of hard work students competing in the Youth and Government State Conference took a break from the nitty gritty to relax from the diligent nature of the day. With many activities throughout the hotel, delegates were given the opportunity to cut loose and mingle with fellow delegations.

Students attending the conference worked hard and remained focused on the tasks that they were assigned to throughout the day. It was understood that the work being done was highly comprehensive and not easy. Activities were set up for the students later that night, allowing them to get a well-deserved  break after a long day. While these activities consisted of simple things, such as board games, and arts and crafts, it was still a great chance for everyone to let go and spend time with friends. From playing card games, like spoons, to getting comfortable and watching Jumanji, there was something for everyone to do. There was even karoke, in which some people got so into it that when the music was cut, they continued to belt lyrics from Hamilton. A good time like this was necessary as it provided students with a little fun over a weekend soley focused on their political involvement.

“It was nice to be able to just hang out. Everyone was being silly and it was a lot of fun,” a student said.

Not only were the events planned a good way to help students relax, but they also provided the districts with a good opportunity to interact with one another. With five different districts attending the conference, there was a very diverse group of students, all with diverse backgrounds. The opportunity to meet people with different interests and characteristics is a wonderful experience and the fact that they’re coming together for a weekend to share the things that they’re passionate about with equally as passionate people is remarkable.

“I didn’t really think that I would end up hanging out with people who weren’t in my delegation, but I ended up meeting a few people from other delegations that I wouldn’t mind keeping in touch with,” a student said.

The students attending the conference understand that what they’re doing is important work and an amazing experience to have. It’s even better though when they get the chance to lay back and have fun. With multiple opportunities for knowlede and political involvement along with the activities provided and new people to meet, it makes for a well-rounded weekend.

2019-01-26T16:09:13-05:00January 26th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Judicial Delegates of District Court Don’t Plan on Pursuing Law in Their Adult Life

By Auyana Aird

Taking on the role as a witness, bailiff, attorney, or judge brings a different feel to many of the judicial delegates. Time, memorization and acting skills to be able to cause a more realistic feeling of the case. Considering this hard work and dedication, you would think delegates would be involved in this section for future careers, but most delegates say otherwise.

“I thought about pursuing law and it is something that’s in my mind but most likely I will not do this as a career.” Delegate Manny Carmouche from the Baytown YMCA said.

It takes a lot of preparation for the on-sight seven round trial in district court. Even though, some Judicial members do not see a future in the law industry.  

“The law is really interesting but I do not think it is the best pathway for me.” Karla Rodriguez from Metro YMCA. “I would like to become an environmental engineer and attend The University of Texas at Austin to pursue that path.”

It was evident that Judicial members enjoy the program and the process, but still, multiple delegates agreed the program did not connect with their career path.

“Getting into the case and being more aware of the process is a reason that I am still in Judicial.” Delegate Juan Navejar from North Shore said.

The cases presented in Judicial are real world cases, it replicates real world trials. The thought of having this as a career in adult life is not in the eyes of most Judicial delegates. Being in the State of Texas Capitol makes the experience of mock trial authentic but doesn’t change the mind of most delegates decisions on not pursuing their career on law.

“I do not plan on doing this in life, I am just doing this for fun.” Delegate Nam Houston from Baytown YMCA said.

The intensity of being in a mock trial room while it is in session is through every district court door you walk through.

“I do not plan on doing law in my adult life because I have kind of found my love within the biology field but this is a really interesting life experience for me.” Delegate Sierra Scott from Hays High School said. “Even though I do not plan on going into law when I graduate, it is still a really great experience and has taught me so much in government in general.”

2019-01-26T16:06:36-05:00January 26th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Judge Takes a Stand

By Simone Lee

Jared Walters, a county court judge has been doing youth and government for three years now and has seen the judicial branch at its peak and at its low points.

“I believe the judges are not objective. They seem to lean towards the verdict that is their opinion,” Walters said.

Walters believes that we need judges who were not only better trained but that prove to be objective. Most judges are juniors or seniors in high school.

The opinion of Jared Walters seems to be shared by other delegates as well. Allyson-Lynn Naylor, a senior from Westwood High School, shared her perspective.

“This problem has been going on since I started doing judicial, it’s a problem that needs to be addressed, it has been in fact,” Naylor said.

Now, a lot of people want changes to the judicial branch and they want it quick. When the Westwood High School Judicial team was questioned about it, many of them felt that it was so hard to love a branch that has so many issues.

“I love Youth and Government, it’s made me consider actually wanting to be a lawyer,” Westwood delegate and judge Grady Mack said. “However, I do believe that judicial has so many issues that really need to be addressed and resolved efficiently.”

2019-01-26T15:21:42-05:00January 26th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

State Affairs Delegates Experience Their First State Conference

By Qandeel Suleman

Many of the delegates of the State Affairs General Assembly are current first years of either the State Affairs section or Youth & Government itself. Some of these delegates simply believe that the State Affairs Forum would be an interesting section to participate in.

Amir Kinnare, a sophomore from Imagine Academy of the Dallas district, expanded upon as to why he chose to participate in the State Affairs Forum along with his first experience of a Youth & Government State Conference.

Delegate Kinnare, in his first year at the State Conference, expressed that he chose to participate in the State Affairs section.

“I enjoy hearing other people’s opinions and learn from them,” Kinnare said.

However, he did feel as though this was an intimidating section because of how nervous he is when talking in front of his fellow delegates, yet he keeps going. According to Kinnare, he “fakes it ‘till he makes it.”

The delegate’s proposal was not a part of the General Assembly because it did not pass through the Second Committee. Delegate Kinnare elaborated how his group’s proposal was on creating a space force in order to provide protection against any outside forces such as meteors.

However, during the Second Committee, Delegate Kinnare believed that his proposal did not pass due to his group and his lack of confidence and lack of research. He plans on improving next year in order to present a proposal of his own in the General Assembly.

Many delegates agree with Kinnare that the first year is rough on your own when approaching the stand to talk and think quickly in order to influence your fellow delegates and voice your opinion. On the other hand, they do believe that the State Affairs section is a place to learn, grow, and enjoy your time in Youth & Government.

2019-01-26T15:12:52-05:00January 26th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Bill Proposes Minors Eligible to Serve in Jail

By: Filip Ivanis

A bill by Gabriel Letcher was “highly controversial,” Mrs. Talley said. The author didn’t give much information and, accordingly, delegates had many questions and amendments.

The bill states that if a minor commits four misdemeanors they are eligible to go to juvenile jail. Misdemeanors could range anywhere from getting a ticket for crossing a street in the wrong place, to certain drug crimes with small amounts of a controlled substance, and weapon possession offenses.

“This would mean that a 13-year-old who stole a five cent bubble gum and a 17-year-old drug addict would be treated the same,” said an amendment author trying to precisely define offenses covered by this bill.

Another amendment was made to the bill. It changed the destination of these minors from jail to a juvenile detention center, “to the provide education minors need”

There were four other amendments debated, two of them “really similar” as pointed out by delegates. “They were both just focusing on the change in age at which the bill will be applicable” commented one delegate.

Some stated that “If a minor has been punished three times already, the fourth time is honestly too much, and a detention center is fair.” However, others asked, “If the minor has been punished three times already and nothing has changed, what is the point of taking the minor outside the education system and straight to jail?”

The opponent speaker made a statement that “The bill is too straightforward and it skips over the details like they had no time to be considered. There is nothing in this bill that stops a death sentence to be issued, and no minor should be sentenced like that.”

Proponents were pointing out that “This bill will drastically help Texas by discouraging criminals, even if they are only children.”

The opponents had combated the proponents with statements as “This bill isn’t completely clear, and it sets no limits for the punishments.”

The opponent which the delegates agreed with the most was Jalen Lake. He said, “I believe this bill will destroy young minority communities. This bill is an undercurrent and it doesn’t prevent some judge to sentence a minor to 30 years in prison where they should only serve 5.“

After more than one hour of debate, the bill didn’t pass, with three people voting aye, while everybody else voted nay.

2019-01-26T15:05:59-05:00January 26th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

A New Delegate’s Perspective

By Sierra Jackson

Delegate Mihir Nakra from Centennial High School in San Antonio, Texas is a member of the Legislative Hyde House.

This year was his first time in the Youth & Government program.

“I’ve really enjoyed State so far this year. It’s really been interesting and helpful for me, ”Nakra said. “YG gives you so much more insight on what actually goes on in the government.”

Nakra said that he was actually nervous about his bill at first. “I was nervous at the beginning, but when closing summations came around, I knew what I was going to say, and I said it, and it was good,” Nakra said.

Nakra had his bill passed today in committee. His bill was relating to the necessity of prerequisites when purchasing long arms of handguns. He had many proponents and many opponents on his bill.

“I was kind of surprised that the committee approved my bill,” Nakra said. “They came at me with some really hard questions, and I tried to answer to the best of my ability. There were 300 mass shootings in America in 2018, and it is really a big problem. We need gun control and this is just a small step in the process.”

2019-01-26T14:58:04-05:00January 26th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Controversial Abortion Bill Denied on Hyde House Floor

By Tierra Jackson

In Hyde House, Sarah McNeely’s bill was not passed by the Legislative press this morning.

McNeely’s bill was on an act relating to allowing minors in the state of Texas to obtain a judicial bypass without parental notice and consent. Her overall bill had eight questions that were asked during her question and answer period. There were two total opponent judicial bypasses that were not passed and zero proponent amendments for the bypasses.

Following that, this bill was created for underaged girls to receive permission to get an abortion only by obtaining it by a state of Texas judge. They would not have to worry about being judged or discriminated against in result of having an abortion.

The girls would be offered to take part in the Janes Due Process to help benefit them and their future. This process is a confidential fall back plan for teens that provides free legal representations for those who have decided to do the abortion.

By implementing the judicial bypass, fewer girls would be giving birth as teenagers. McNeely’s law is to benefit young girls in Texas and give them options on what they decide to do with their unborn babies.

Meanwhile, McNeely plans on working hard to get her voice heard on her bill so it will one day be passed and benefit the future.

“I believe girls should have open options in their life,” McNeely said.

 

2019-01-26T14:54:07-05:00January 26th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Animation Regulation Bill Dies in Senate

By Katherine Funderburg

Abel Macias of Mansfield Timberview high school YMCA delegation came prepared today to get his bill through the Senate right after lunch.  

Macias’s bill was an act regulating the capacity of ammunition held in gun magazines. A gun magazine is a chamber for holding a supply of cartridges to be fed automatically to the breach of a gun. The state of Texas shall stop the sales of magazines with a capacity of more than 15 bullets. However open carry will still be enacted, with little to no change.

“This bill could potentially shrink the size and frequency of mass shootings,” Macias said, revealing the goal of this bill.

This bill was created in response to the very serious issue of mass shootings in Texas. This was meant to protect Texan children and adult lives alike. There are thousands of mass shootings in the United States every single year, and Macias thinks it high time that something was done about it.

It was not completely smooth trip: one senator attempted to quickly get everyone on to vote “nay” as to not waste time by sending this bill back to the house to only come right back, and move quicker on to other bills. Many senators pointed out there were many loopholes throughout the bill, that lead to this bill not passing from the Senate floor.

As Macias said, it is time for common sense legislation to stop mass shootings like Sandy Hook, and there are many other cases on mass shootings, but not this piece of legislature.

 

2019-01-26T14:50:39-05:00January 26th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Silent Sergeant of the Senate

By: Christina van Waasbergen

She quietly patrols the floor of the Senate, her face bearing an expression of intense focus. Many delegates only notice her when she taps them on the shoulder and politely, but firmly, reminds them to not lean on the railing. What many people don’t realize, however, is that she plays a vital role in the legislature.

Her name is Taaja Foster, and she’s the sergeant-at-arms for the Farabee Senate. Her job is to enforce the rules of the Senate chambers. She says that it’s a little-known but important position.

The junior from International Leadership of Texas, Arlington-Grand Prairie High School didn’t know she’d be fulfilling this role until Thursday of this week. There were not enough sergeants-at-arms, so she volunteered to take up the position. This means she will not be able to present her bill to the Senate, but, for her, it’s worth it.

“I get to see what goes on in the Senate from an outsider’s perspective,” Foster said. “Sitting in the chair, you don’t really get to see the intensity of how other delegates are researching on the sidelines or writing down questions that they need to ask in their journals, so it’s very rewarding in that sense.”

Foster says that the most difficult part of being the sergeant at arms is getting her fellow delegates to listen to her. “As I am a teenager, other teenagers don’t like taking directions from a teenager like themselves, so sometimes I will get a bit of attitude from some delegates,” she said.

However, this has not been a major problem for her.  “They’re all great kids in the Senate chambers, so it’s very easy,” Foster said. “Not many rules are violated at any given time.”

Foster recommends that other delegates consider becoming the sergeant-at-arms. “The sergeant-at-arms, while it may go underrated, it’s an extremely important position, and we need more for next year,” Foster said.

       

 

2019-01-26T14:47:41-05:00January 26th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments