The Public Right of Access to Juvenile Delinquency Hearings

Despite the differences between the criminal and juvenile court systems, the Supreme Court has extended many criminal procedural safeguards to juvenile delinquency hearings. The Court does not, however, “automatically and preemptorily” apply every procedural safeguard to juvenile hearings; rather, it carefully examines the criminal trial standard in the context of delinquency hearings. Adopting a similar approach, this Note considers the implications of a constitutional right of access to juvenile delinquency hearings. Part I examines the right of access announced in Globe Newspaper and Richmond Newspapers v. Virginia. Part II looks at the juvenile justice system and argues that extension of the right of access to juvenile hearings promotes the first amendment’s underlying purposes. Part III analyzes the state’s interests in confidential juvenile proceedings and preventing public identification of the juvenile offender. This Part argues that states may not mandate or routinely permit exclusion of the public from the juvenile courtroom. The juvenile court judge may, however, limit access to his courtroom when justified by an overriding state interest.