The Write Stuff
Because of the laws restricting access to juvenile proceedings and the sharing of that information from courts to agencies mandated by many state and federal statutes, local ordinances, resolutions, regulations, information and fact checking of that information can still be difficult.
Most agencies that maintain records on juveniles must comply with a variety of Federal and State statutes, local ordinances, resolutions, regulations, court orders, and legal opinions in formulating policies for the collection and dissemination of records information, according to (Tamryn J. Etten & Robert F. Petrone, Sharing Data and Information in Juvenile Justice: Legal, Ethical, and Practical Considerations, Juv. & Fam. Ct. 6589 (1994).) “Despite the complexity of these various confidentiality mandates, courts on both the Federal and State levels have held that there is no constitutional confidentiality right for an alleged or adjudicated delinquent. Rather, in challenges brought in the past 25 years, the courts have disregarded the confidentiality provision when it impedes the constitutional rights of another.185”
States have enacted laws allowing some media access to juvenile proceedings. U.S. Supreme Court is holding fast to the idea courts should retain discretion in this determination and it should be evaluated based upon characteristics of an individual case. The U.S. Supreme Court recently refused to hear an appeal in United States v. Three Juveniles, (Three Juveniles, 61 F.3d at 90, Etten and Petrone)196 , in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit upheld a U.S. district court judge’s restriction of media access to proceedings in which three juveniles were being tried for committing a hate crime. The refusal to hear the case let the First Circuit’s decision stand, allowing judges to retain jurisdiction to determine if and when protecting the privacy of a minor during delinquency proceedings will serve the broader public interest of furthering the juvenile’s rehabilitation.
United States v. Three Juveniles arose when the government charged three youth with civil rights violations after they allegedly conspired to impinge upon the civil rights of Jews and African-Americans living in the Brockton and Randolph, MA, areas. The three, initially prosecuted in 1994 under a Federal hate crime statute, purportedly had been members of a white supremacy skinhead group called the New Dawn Hammerskins.