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Name: In re A.L.
Case #: B242179
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 8
Opinion Date: 03/03/2014

The juvenile court’s blanket order allowing press access to dependency proceedings was invalid because it conflicts with Welfare and Institutions Code section 346 which allows courts discretion to determine access on a case-by-case basis. The presiding judge of the juvenile court in Los Angeles issued a blanket order allowing the press access to dependency proceedings unless it was shown that there was a reasonable likelihood that it would result in harm to the minor. The order further provided that no one would be denied access to a courtroom until an objection had been made and the objecting party had demonstrated detriment. The minor in this dependency case appealed an order allowing the Los Angeles Times access to his dependency proceeding. The appellate court here reversed the blanket order, finding it invalid. The blanket order conflicts with section 346 which gives the courts discretion to determine on a case-by-case basis whether someone can be admitted to the proceeding based on a direct and legitimate interest in the case or the work of the court. If there is merit to effecting the reforms provided in the blanket order, it is not the rule of the judiciary to provide a more open system, but the role of the Legislature to effect those changes.