State high court approves new juvenile court rules
MARYLAND–In early October, the Maryland Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, approved new rules which guarantee that information about juvenile proceedings will be made available to the public before they take place.
Rule 11-104(f) provides that the court must list the names of respondents involved in all juvenile felony hearings and post hearing times and places. According to the rule, the clerk must make the list available prior to convening court on any day the juvenile court is in session.
Additionally, Rule 11-121(a) prohibits the clerk from using the Court Records-Confidentiality Rule to seal docket information. The rule states that if a hearing is open to the public pursuant to the Code, the name of the charged juvenile and the date, time and location of the hearing are not confidential.
The court rules came about after a new state code provision that took effect in 1997 led to questions about how much information must be released. The new provision opened all juvenile court proceedings in cases where the crime alleged would be a felony if committed by an adult unless “good cause” can be shown for closing the proceeding. But the code provision failed to specify what information from the open hearings would be available, whether the schedule of such proceedings would be posted beforehand, and how motions for closure for “good cause” would be handled.
The Rules Committee of the Court of Special Appeals held two hearings in October 1997, and then proposed revisions to the state’s Rules of Juvenile Procedure. Following a public comment period, the proposal was approved by the committee, and then sent to the Maryland Court of Appeals, which approved the rules in June 1998. (Md. R. Civ. P. 11-104(f), 11-121(a))