MT. VERNON — Judge David Overstreet challenged young minds at Casey Middle School on Wednesday to make good choices so they don't end up seeing him in court.
A Power Point presentation made possible through the Illinois Judges Association, Overstreet's theme was "Seven Reasons to Leave the Party."
"When someone your age or a little bit older comes into the courtroom it's too late," Overstreet said. "We as judges sometimes feel like coroners or pathologists and not doctors. You've heard of preventative medicine; this is our effort at preventative law."
Overstreet said students usually fall into four categories: those pledging not to drink or drive, those undecided, those who have to pay consequences before they change their behavior, and repeat offenders.
For those in the first group, Overstreet applauded their decision, adding it's important for them to hear the presentation so they can relay it to their friends.
"As you get older and your teachers and parents have less influence over you … the person who is going to have the most impact is the one on your left or right. It's important that you have a good influence over your friends," he said.
For those in the last group, Overstreet said "they are unable to see five seconds into the future or remember anything five seconds in the past."
He added, "Let's know each other socially, let's not know each other from being in court."
Overstreet detailed the seven reasons to leave a party, including death, having a criminal record, breaking the trust of parents and others, not having free time, getting no privacy, having no money, and having no vehicle.
Overstreet produced an example of how a wrong decision can lead to death, citing a 16-year-old male youth who took two female friends out in the country and attempted to go 60 mph around a dangerous curve. One of the passengers was ejected to her death, and the other was crippled. The male driver walked away.