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CRM 1-499

144. Limited Public Disclosure Of Juvenile Matters

Unless prosecuted as an adult, neither the name nor picture of any juvenile shall be made public in connection with a juvenile delinquency proceeding. 18 U.S.C.A. § 5038(e) (West 1985). This restriction does not apply to members of the news media in the private sector. Oklahoma Pub. Co. v. United States, 515 F. Supp. 1255, 1259 (W.D. Okla. 1981). A district court cannot bar the media from publishing information legally obtained. United States v. Three Juveniles, 862 F. Supp. 651, 655-58 (D. Mass. 1994). The Act does not mandate across-the-board closure for all juvenile proceedings, but merely authorizes closure, or any other measures designed to ensure confidentiality, to be determined on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the district court. United States v. Three Juveniles, 61 F. 3d 86, 92 (1st Cir. 1995). A district court must articulate its reasons for closing juvenile proceedings in soundly exercising its discretion. Id.

Delinquency proceedings should be closed from the public view. Three Juveniles, 862 F. Supp. at 655-58. The Act, however, does not invariably require them to be closed. Three Juveniles, 61 F. 3d at 92 n.6. The court has discretion on determining the extent to which records of a juvenile proceeding should be appropriate for public view. Three Juveniles, 862 F. Supp. at 658. The Supreme Court has said it is time that the courts of this country recognize a general right to inspect judicial records and documents. Nixon v. Warner Communications, Inc., 435 U.S. 589, 597, 98 S. Ct. 1306, 1312, 55 L. Ed. 2d 570 (1978). This right is not absolute and the decision to allow such access is left to the sound discretion of the trial court to be exercised in light of the relevant facts and circumstances of the particular case. Id. at 598-99, 98 S. Ct. at 1312-13.