Composure is key in the courtroom, and no one is more comfortable in such a stressful setting than Youth & Government delegate Austin Baxter. This year, Baxter, a senior at Corona del Mar High School, strives to create a low-stress environment in the statewide youth court program through his campaign for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
“I am running for Chief Justice to reduce the pressure delegates are put under to win their cases because, in reality, winning doesn’t matter. What’s important is that we foster a learning environment so delegates can gain real life experience and pass on the knowledge they gain to future delegates,” Baxter said.
Baxter, known as “The Court Guy” by his fellow Newport-Corona del Mar (NCdM) delegates, is the go-to guy when it comes to everything judicial. He is a role model for the aspiring justices and attorneys in his delegation and always makes time to assist them with their cases.
“Austin is an amazing role model in Y&G because he uses his own experiences to teach us. He is overflowing with passion for the court program, which inspires us all to work harder. I’m amazed by his ability to be such a powerful leader, while still being a great friend,” said junior NCdM delegate Lauren Oberreiter.
Last year, Baxter took on the responsibility of piloting the court group within his delegation. He led all 40 NCdM delegates from the five sections of court in lessons about case law, debate and public speaking.
Gathering extensive knowledge of the law through years of experience, Baxter has served on the Youth & Government Supreme Court since his sophomore year and is the only candidate to have served as both a Supreme Court attorney and justice. Through this experience, he developed a wide range of skills and the ability to assist delegates in every court position.
Even though Baxter wholeheartedly dedicated his high school experience to the practice of case law, court was not always his main focus.
“After my freshman year as a bill sponsor, I had no ties to the court program, but I applied for the National Judicial Competition (NJC) because I have always loved arguing,” Baxter said. “I had no idea that I even had a chance of being selected, being a freshman with no experience, but I’m so happy that I was because that program allowed me to blossom into the attorney I want to be. So, I guess I didn’t choose court; court chose me.”
Baxter has now participated in three NJC conferences and plans to compete again this summer. This will make him the first fourth-year NJC delegate in history. If elected as Chief Justice, Baxter will compete in his final year of NJC as the leader of the California delegation.
“I believe I am the best fit to lead a change in the court program because I have experienced firsthand what it’s like to be thrust into a case where you have to present without knowing what to do. My freshman year at NJC, I had no idea how to make an argument or ask a question as a justice, or even what appellate court was,” Baxter said.
After dealing with the immense pressures that come with being a new court delegate, Baxter began taking his role as a mentor more seriously.
“Austin puts all of his effort into helping us become the best delegates we can be. I believe his passion and leadership experience make him the best person for the position,” said sophomore NCdM delegate Ben Marks.
Two years ago, Baxter was the only sophomore selected as an officer on the NCdM board and has been an important asset to the leadership team ever since. This year, he is the delegation treasurer, leading all fundraising and community service events.
“Austin is a hardworking, intelligent, and thoughtful person that invests his time in improving our delegation, school, and community,” Oberreiter said.
Baxter’s support for his fellow NCdM delegates made them quick to jump on board with his campaign.
“Regardless of what happens with the election, I want to thank all of my NCdM family, especially our amazing president Delaney Carroll, for always backing me and supporting my campaign. It’s been so much fun,” Baxter said.
With years of experience under his belt and a supportive delegation at his back, Baxter has the potential to be a catalyst for change in California’s Youth & Government court program.