Harker Heights Municipal Court was the topic of discussion at the Kiwanis noon meeting Tuesday, with guest speakers Julie Helsham, court administrator, and Judge Antonio Costa Jr.
The types of cases heard in Municipal Court include traffic offenses, city ordinance violations, disorderly conduct, alcohol and tobacco and driving under the influence cases.
Since Sept. 1, 2009, municipal court judges have been allowed to conduct wedding ceremonies.
In 1997, Costa inherited the leadership role for the Heights Teen Court program, which currently handles about 60 cases a year.
“I changed the direction of Teen Court to be more of an educational experience so the kids would learn something about what it’s like if they were in a regular courtroom setting,” Costa said.
Harker Heights High School juvenile defendants who have already been before the court serve as jurors and speech students volunteer as prosecutors and defense attorneys.
“Some of these kids are quite aggressive and take their part seriously,” Costa said.
Punishment is carried out through community service.
“Depending on the nature of the offense, it can range up to 46 hours of service per violation,” Costa said.
Additional training opportunities are provided for those who go through the Teen Court experience, Helsham said.
They tour the police department and the sheriff’s office.
“That was eye-opening for many of them,” she said.