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Readers of the Collin County Observer will remember that in June of last year, the Collin County commissioners forced Justin Nichols, their Teen Court Coordinator, to resign after it became public knowledge that he was gay.
Mr. Nichols is now in law school, and is now the immediate past president of the Teen Court Association of Texas. Last week, the Teen Court Association held its annual conference in Dallas. Out of that conference came the following press release detailing the unanimous passage of an amendment to its bylaws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of age, race, religion, gender, disability, veteran status, national origin, or sexual orientation.
In a letter to me, Nichols described the amendment as, "This is a personal victory, and also a victory for the hundreds of volunteers, coordinators, and defendants who participate in the program across the state."
November 4, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Justin Nichols
TEEN COURT ASSOCIATION OF TEXAS BECOMES FIRST TEXAS LAW-RELATED ORGANIZATION TO EXPAND NON-DISCRIMINATION POLICY
The Teen Court Association of Texas (TCAT) has approved amendments to its bylaws to include prohibitions against discrimination on the basis of age, race, religion, gender, disability, veteran status, national origin, or sexual orientation. TCAT is holding its annual conference from November 3-6, 2009, in Dallas, Texas.
There are many organizations in Texas which represent courthouse and law-enforcement employees including police officers, sheriffs and constables, various levels of judges, court clerks, and probation officers. But, TCAT is the first to explicitly prohibit discrimination on such an expansive basis – even beyond what the law requires.
Teen Court is a program in which juveniles who commit misdemeanor offenses have their case argued by teen attorneys and their punishment assessed by teen jurors. There are nearly 100 Teen Court programs across Texas which rely on adult and teen volunteers to try cases.
TCAT president, Justin Nichols, said of the action, “Teen Courts are in the business of working to make a positive impact in the community. This move formalizes our organization’s position that no one, whether it be court coordinators or volunteers, should be discriminated against on any basis. Our association is now in line with Texas’ major universities and largest non-profit organizations, and we’re proud to be at the forefront of opening the justice system up to everyone.”
TCAT was founded in 1991 and meets works to effectively combat juvenile delinquency and involve Texas teens in the justice system in a positive, constructive environment.
Didn't know Mr. Nichols was in law school - congratulations and I look forward to your joining the brothers and sisters of the Bar. You are certainly welcome here.
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