COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Supreme Court has ordered broader access to juvenile-court trials, procedures and records in response to a newspaper's lawsuit over a fatal mugging and an arson.
"It's the first time the court has said any portion of any juvenile court records would have to be open," said David Marburger, attorney for The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer. "There is going to be across-the-board access statewide."
In a unanimous ruling on Aug. 30, the Ohio justices said a juvenile-court judge could not close proceedings without a hearing. The court ordered Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court Judge Alison Floyd to provide the newspaper transcripts and dockets from the two cases, and, in one case, conduct further hearings.
The Plain Dealer had sued after Floyd closed portions of the proceedings in the mugging and the arraignment of two 11-year-old girls who were accused of setting a fire.
Plain Dealer Editor Doug Clifton praised the court ruling.
"Public access to the courts is fundamental to citizen oversight," Clifton said. "This ruling goes a long way toward preserving it."
The case is State ex rel. Plain Dealer Publishing Co. v. Floyd.