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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 76713 Find in a Library
Title: Reconciling Media Access With Confidentiality for the Individual in Juvenile Court
Journal: Santa Clara Law Review  Volume:20  Dated:(Spring 1980)  Pages:405-424
Author(s): S D Cohen
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 20
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Conflicts between media access to court proceedings and the confidentiality tradition of the juvenile court are discussed, and a contract between the court and the press is proposed as a reconciling instrument.
Abstract: An overview of the juvenile court movement focuses on the need to provide juveniles with due process protections without damaging confidentiality safeguards. Without confidentiality, juvenile offenders would face problems of stigmatization, finding employment, and obtaining further education. Since a review of Supreme Court cases reveals that the first amendment does not guarantee the press a right of special access to information that is generally unavailable to the public, the right of press access to juvenile proceedings hinges on whether public access exists. Many juvenile courts admit persons with a legitimate purpose for being there, and the news media should be granted access in the same manner because they are legitimate representatives of public concerns. The Supreme court has upheld the press's right to publish information obtained from proceedings where the public had access to the courtroom. This justification was extended to a juvenile situation in Oklahoma Publishing Co. v. District Court when the Supreme Court supported the newspaper's right to publish information obtained at a public hearing, even though press attendance was based on an agreement with the judge not to disclose the child's identity. The precise distinctions between a private and a public hearing remain unclear, and presumably a juvenile hearing which admitted one person for research purposes could be considered a public hearing. Although a juvenile has no constitutional right to a public trial, the lack of such a right does not diminish the importance of public scrutiny in maintaining ethical and prudent judicial proceedings. In California, a limited amount of public review is permitted in the juvenile courts subject to the judge's discretion. Media access and confidentiality do not necessarily conflict in this situation, but additional protections are required to ensure that the press does not disclose the minor's name. A legally binding contract between the court or judge and individual observers is proposed to protect a juvenile offender's identity. Aproximately 90 footnotes are included.
Index Term(s): Confidential records access; Freedom of the press; Juvenile court procedures; Juvenile courts; Media coverage; Press relations; Rights of minors
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