Opening the Doors to Juvenile Court: Is There an Emerging Right of Public Access?

By Hughes, Thomas A. | Communications and the Law, March 1997 | Go to article overview

Opening the Doors to Juvenile Court: Is There an Emerging Right of Public Access?


Hughes, Thomas A., Communications and the Law


Three teenagers are arraigned on hate crime charges in a U.S. district court. The judge refuses to let reporters attend any hearings in the case and orders that any information that could identify the juveniles be deleted from case records before they are released to the press. A newspaper appeals the judge's order, but a federal appeals court affirms the decision and declares that juvenile proceedings in federal court are presumptively closed. Believing that important rights are at stake, the newspaper petitions for U.S. Supreme Court review, arguing that the First Amendment creates a right of public access to juvenile court proceedings.

This is precisely what happened in United States v. Three Juveniles, a case involving The Boston Globe. The Globe Newspaper Co. filed a petition for writ of certiorari in November 1995,(1) and the U.S. Supreme Court denied review on April 29, 1996.(2)

The Globe case involved the Federal Juvenile Delinquency Act, which allows juveniles to be tried in federal court under certain circumstances.(3) Comparatively few juvenile cases are tried in federal court; most are tried in state juvenile courts. Additionally, actions taken by several states in recent years suggest that there may be a trend towards greater public access.

Georgia, for example, amended its juvenile code in 1995 to create a presumption of public access to juvenile hearings in cases in which a juvenile is charged with certain designated felonies, such as kidnapping and attempted murder.(4) A new law enacted in Missouri that year "removes the veil of secrecy that once kept juvenile court proceedings private--in the hope that allowing names and photos in newspapers will discourage teen crime and alert school officials."(5) Also in 1995, the Indiana General Assembly passed two major laws that provide greater public access to many juvenile court proceedings and records.(6) And in 1988, Michigan created what one writer called "one of the most open juvenile court systems in the country" by granting public access to court proceedings and documents in cases involving delinquents, truants, runaways, and abuse victims.(7) These actions followed the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in Richmond Newspapers v. Virginia and later cases, which held that the press and public have a right of access under the First Amendment to attend the criminal trials of adults.(8)

The purpose of this article is to determine whether there is an emerging right of access to juvenile court proceedings, and whether there is a First Amendment basis for such a right of access consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court's public access doctrine as expressed in Richmond Newspapers and its progeny. The answers to these questions are of immense importance to those on both sides of the issue. Advocates of private hearings contend that allowing publicity would result in irreparable harms to juveniles, such as limiting a juvenile's future educational and employment opportunities. In contrast, advocates of public access point to statistics showing a dramatic increase in violent crimes committed by juveniles,(9) and argue that the public has a right to know how juvenile courts are dealing with the problem, and that holding juvenile hearings in secret breeds public mistrust of the juvenile justice system.

Additionally, the news media have been trying to gain access to juvenile courts for more than 40 years.(10) The Globe case demonstrates that juvenile court access is still an issue important to the news media, and the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court denied review means that the conflict between advocates of private hearings and advocates of public access will continue to be waged at both the state and federal court levels for the foreseeable future.

I. A Brief History of Juvenile Justice in the United States

At the time the U.S. Constitution was written, the common law considered children to have reached the age of criminal responsibility at age seven. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Opening the Doors to Juvenile Court: Is There an Emerging Right of Public Access?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.