Lawmakers Call For Open Juvenile Court Cases

Many courtroom proceedings are open to the public, except when children are at the center of attention. But Julia Johnson says that closed door policy meant she was kept in the dark regarding the welfare of her 3 year old nephew.

“We weren't allowed in any of the court proceedings ..Anything that was done,” says Johnson.

Johnson says the judge took custody of her nephew away from his father. And because of the confidential nature of the custody hearings...despite the fact that she's a foster parent herself...her nephew was put in another foster family.

“To have a family member (her nephews) in foster care makes no sense whatsoever. He has plenty of family.”

But lawmakers are filing a bill to open up child protection proceedings.

The bill would allow anyone to attend the hearings. One idea is to hold judges, social workers, and attorneys accountable when child custody or protection issues are discussed.

Chief Justice Joseph Lambert is proposing a 4 year pilot program.

“Relatives who could in fact contribute to the welfare of the child would not be excluded,” says Lambert.

“Tthey're very frustrated,” Jefferson County Family Court Judge Patricia Walker FitzGeralnd says of family members she’s had to bar from courtrooms. “They feel like they're being shut out of the process. They feel like it hinders their ability to help their family members.”

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  • by Grieving Location: KY on Feb 1, 2008 at 09:28 AM
    Open court should be statewide remember, NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND! Children learn more in the first four years of their life than they learn in a lifetime! Stop destroying them by forcing them to grow up with abuse, neglect, drugs, etc. Open hearings can make a huge difference because family, friends, teachers, and neighbors can enlighten the Judges, attorneys and social workers, if they want the truth, to what is truthfully going on in the lives of abused and neglected children. Parents lie in court, and get by with it using their children to support their habits with tax payer’s money. Stop abusing children further with foster care! Children are sent to live with strangers, and many have family that are more than willing to love and care for them even without state aid! Open hearings may help eliminate some of the political corruption that goes on in these cases too, because children can’t vote! Stop using DNA testing in child protection cases! Pray for the children-our future!
  • by Jeb Location: KY on Jan 31, 2008 at 08:08 AM
    While we're at it, let's release the names of juveniles who are arrested and charged with a crime. I'm tired of coddling and slapping their wrist each time. They know they can get away with it only because they are a juvenile.
  • by c Location: fkt on Jan 31, 2008 at 04:38 AM
    It's about time they make the judges accountable in these cases! All family members should be allowed in these proceedings! I hope they pass this quickly for the children's sake! I further think that Ms. Johnson should sue the judge and others involved for placing her nephew in some other foster care home instead of placing him with her (his family)! If she's good enough to keep other children, she's certainly good enough to keep her own nephew! Open those proceedings immediately to protect our children from judges and social workers who really don't care about the children in the first place! Too many social workers are power hungry and even threaten parents when there is no cause to do so. Go after those who abused their children, but make social workers accountable in the way they handle their cases! Make judges accountable for the way they handle the cases before them! It's all about accountablity and protection of our children! I say pass the law!
  • by KY Xtian Location: Mt. Sterling on Jan 31, 2008 at 01:46 AM
    Wait - there is there already a Kentucky law which states that when the state is compelled to remove a child from the custody of their parents, that they must attempt to place the child in the custody of a relative? Why aren't judges, attorneys and social workers following this law already?


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