Youth Court

The West Seneca Youth Court was one of the first of it's kind in New York State when Established on May 21st,1984


  • A Youth That Must appear in Court is Arraigned by a Youth Judge, and assigned a Youth Defense team, The Court prosecutes the case with a Youth Prosecution Team, The Determination of Guilt or Innocence is made by the Youth Judge after hearing the Case.
  • A Juvenile Convicted in Youth Court is sentenced to community service of up to 20 hours.
  • The Community service is done under the Direction of Detective Lt. William Leitzel at various sites within the Town of West Seneca
  • In order to have a case heard in Youth Court,
  • the defendant and his or her parents must agree to abide by the decision of the court. 
  • In any case where there was any damage done to a victim's property the total value of the damage must be paid to the victim prior to the case being heard. 
  • If the defendant will not abide by the rules of the court the matter is sent directly to Erie County Family Court which is part of the New York State Family Court system. 
  • The victim in any case also has the right to ask that the case be sent directly to Erie County Family Court instead of using the West Seneca Youth Court


The Youth Court is run under the direction of the West Seneca Police Juvenile Department and overseen by an Executive Board of town citizens.

Each court session is monitored by a qualified volunteer attorney and a police detective.

At present the entire program is run by Detective Lt. William Leitzel. Prior to this Detective Lou Giordano had been with the program since it's inception until his retirement.West Seneca Youth Court

The First Youth Court was setup by the Late Detective Henry Kozierowski and then West Seneca Youth Director Marge McLaughlin.

The West Seneca Youth Court has been used as a model for other departments all over the United States.


Youth Court is a peer court. juveniles who have not reached their sixteenth birthday will be tried, judged, defended and convicted or exonerated by a court made up of other juveniles.

The court will have guidelines established for advice. However, the youths selected to serve the court will make the final decisions.


The primary goal of youth court is to reduce incidents of juvenile crime, divert offending youths from the Juvenile Justice System and to provide an alternative to the Family Court process. and further contact with police.


The most common cases heard in Youth Court are petit larceny, harassment, trespassing, criminal mischief, disorderly conduct and ABC violations.


This unique court serves the community in diverse ways. It educates youth to a better understanding of the laws and allows them to examine the workings of the Justice System. Problem youths with minor offenses are often overlooked but can be appropriately handled in this court, community, the police and themselves.


Training Attorneys are an integral part of the Youth Court operations.


Youth Court History


In 1980 Detective Hank Kozierowski observed a youth court presentation at the New York State Police Juvenile Officers Conference.Late Detective Kozierowski Dedicated his career to the youth of West Seneca

West Seneca's Youth Court was formed in 1984 as an alternative to sending 7-15 year old's to Family Court for Lesser Crimes.


The first Executive Board was formed and set the framework for the development of West Seneca Youth Court. The Board was made up of school officials, Town businessmen, local attorney's, Youth Board Members, Police Juvenile Bureau Officers, and persons interested in youth.


Subsequently, the Training Attorney Committee was developed. It was composed of 11 area attorneys, judges, and town attorneys who volunteered their services to the program.

They developed the Youth Court Training Manual and the ten week orientation and training program.


In the Fall of 1984 the first Youth Court recruitment was held. Twenty-three young persons were chosen out of 95 applicants to enter Youth Court Training, All between the ages of 13 and 19. The first Youth Court session was held in February of 1985.