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Sheri McMahon, Published February 07 2009

Take a look at open juvenile courts

This was not the focus of The Forum editorial about sunshine laws and what public officials discuss among themselves at the Rib Fest, but I think it is worth pointing out.

Among the areas mentioned that are not subject to public scrutiny in North Dakota were trade secrets that impact the state, attorney-client privilege and juvenile court proceedings. Worth pointing out is this: In recent years, there has been a growing movement toward opening juvenile courts, and Minnesota has allowed open court in juvenile proceedings (child protection and delinquency proceedings) for a decade. At least 17 states now have some statutory provisions for public proceedings in juvenile court.

With The Forum’s long interest in and support of sunshine laws, it would be worthwhile for The Forum to explore movements to open juvenile courts, the objections to those movements and the reasons to support them, including the widespread acceptance of once-reluctant judges in jurisdictions where this has been done.