Calif. Appeals Court Rejects Open-Media Rule in Los Angeles

The California Court of Appeals has invalidated a blanket order in Los Angeles that allowed for eased media access to family court proceedings.

The order, issued in 2012 by Presiding Judge of the Juvenile Court Michael Nash, permitted reporters to attend family court proceedings unless any participant successfully argued that the media’s presence and subsequent coverage would harm children involved in the proceedings.

Nash’s decision drew criticism from child welfare advocates, and mixed emotions from youths involved in the system.

The appeals court for the Second Appellate District ruled today that the order violates a section of the state’s Welfare and Institutions Code that governs decision-making about who can attend a hearing.

From the opinion:

“The blanket order interferes with the discretion section 346 vests in the court to determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether a person may be admitted to the hearing based on a ‘direct and legitimate interest in the particular case or the work of the court.'”

Nash had argued to the appeals court that his order was not appealable because it did not “substantially affect the rights of the parties with regard to the disposition.” But the appeals court called that a “misreading of Code of Civil Procedure.”

Click here to read the opinion.

John Kelly is the editor-in-chief of The Chronicle of Social Change.

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John Kelly
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John Kelly is editor-in-chief of The Chronicle of Social Change.

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