Who Should Hold the Key? An Analysis of Access and Confidentiality in Juvenile Dependency Courts


A small child enters a courtroom to face the people that have subjected her to sexual and physical abuse. As she takes a seat she steals a glance at her abusers. She cannot help but look, for her abusers are her parents. She turns her head to hide her tears, and also, the stove coil-shaped burn marks that have been branded upon her face. Should the public and the media be permitted to enter the courtroom to capture this heart-wrenching scene? Or should the proceeding be cloaked in confidentiality? The answer depends on the state in which the proceeding is being held. This comment analyzes the closed dependency court system of California and juxtaposes it with the open systems of Florida and Oregon. The comment concludes by arguing that full protection of child abuse and neglect victims cannot be achieved in an open court system.


Juvenile Law

Date of this Version

April 2006