Media and the Juvenile Court
The juvenile court, which deals with persons under the age of 18, differs in many ways from the adult system. Juvenile Court matters are confidential and are not open to the public.
Juvenile Court Confidentiality
All Juvenile Court records are confidential. The minor, his or her parents or legal guardian(s), and attorneys of record may obtain copies of court minute orders and selected court documents by appearing at the appropriate reception counter with photo identification. The records will not be mailed.
Pursuant to local rule, persons and agencies may inspect dependency records authorized by statute (Welfare and Institutions Code section 827) without obtaining a court order. The right to inspect such records includes the right to view them and, for certain persons and agencies, to obtain copies.
Other individuals must file a Petition For Disclosure of Juvenile Case File (JC Form # JV-570). The completed form may be presented in person or by mail but must contain an original signature and must comply with California Rules of Court, rule 5.552. If the petition is granted, viewing and/or obtaining copies may be done only by appearing in person with proper photo identification. Copies of records will not be mailed.
Juvenile Court Media Policy
Under California law, the Juvenile Court has a duty to protect the confidentiality of its records, courtroom proceedings, and most importantly the identities of the children who are or may come under the court's jurisdiction.
The Juvenile Court also recognizes the news media's mission to inform and educate the public about the judicial system and how it works with child victims of abuse and neglect (who may be declared 'wards' of the court) as well as youthful offenders (who may be declared 'dependents' of the court). Responsible media coverage can facilitate public scrutiny of the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, thereby allowing the citizenry to evaluate the overall operations of the judicial system.
To maintain the confidentiality required by law, while at the same time ensuring the integrity of the courts through public monitoring, the Juvenile Court has adopted a Juvenile Court Media Policy (revised July, 2009).
Click here for details on the Juvenile Court Media Policy and information on how to request media access to Juvenile Court proceedings.