New Guide to Juvenile Court Access Explains Why Public Can’t Get In


A comprehensive, state-by-state guide to access to juvenile courts across the U.S. has been published by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. The pullout, funded by a grant from the McCormick Foundation, examines each state's laws on access to juvenile delinquency proceedings and records, access to dependency proceedings and records, restrictions on coverage of minors in adult court, and rules regarding cameras and recording in juvenile courts. The guide was researched and written by McCormick Legal Fellow Kristen Rasmussen and is available free online.

The guide says that courts nationwide repeatedly have declined to find a First Amendment-based right of public access to the juvenile court system. Most courts have found that “public scrutiny is inconsistent with the juvenile court's aim of protecting children from the stigma and emotional trauma that can accompany publicity,” the guide says. “Courts likewise have dismissed historical considerations, finding that a hallmark of the nation's juvenile court system is the adjudication of matters outside the public's gaze.”

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