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Federal law authorizes closure of juveniles' 'hate crimes' proceeding

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Federal law authorizes closure of juveniles' 'hate crimes' proceeding10/09/95 MASSACHUSETTS--The U.S. Court of Appeals in Boston (1st Cir.) found in…

Federal law authorizes closure of juveniles’ ‘hate crimes’ proceeding


MASSACHUSETTS–The U.S. Court of Appeals in Boston (1st Cir.) found in late July that a Boston federal District Court was within its authority when it denied Globe Newspapers’ motion to open a juvenile proceeding against three minors charged with “hate crime” violations in mid-September of 1994.

The district court decided that closure was mandated, not merely authorized, by the Federal Juvenile Delinquency Act. Globe Newspapers Company is now petitioning for review by the United States Supreme Court.

The three juveniles are members of a neo-nazi group known as the New Dawn Hammerskins. They were arrested and charged with the commission of certain “hate crimes” in violation of federal civil rights law.

The Appeals Court upheld the lower court’s decision to deny access, although it disagreed with the district court’s interpretation of the statute. The district court found that “neither the Supreme Court nor the First Circuit has decided whether blanket closure of juvenile delinquency proceedings contravenes the First Amendment.”

The appellate court stated that the United States Supreme Court has found across-the-board prohibitions on access unconstitutional. However, consistent with the district court’s finding, the appellate court found that the Federal Juvenile Delinquency Act does permit a court to close juvenile proceedings on a case-by-case basis. The Act affords the option of opening juvenile records in the judge’s discretion, but does not compel opening those records. (United States v. Three Juveniles, Globe Newspaper Company; Media Counsel: Jonathan M. Albano, Boston)