- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 4, 2014

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A Los Angeles judge was wrong two years ago when he opened juvenile custody hearings to reporters, an appeals court has ruled.

In a 2-1 decision Monday, 2nd District Court of Appeal justices said allowing reporters in the court interferes with every judge’s right to determine who can attend a hearing.

Tricia A. Bigelow, presiding judge of the appeals court, wrote the dissenting opinion, saying the appeal should have been dismissed on jurisdictional grounds.

A 15-year-old girl challenged the ruling after a judge said a Los Angeles Times reporter could attend a hearing to discuss whether she should be removed from her family after an assault by her stepfather.

The girl’s lawyers argued that her case was “particularly brutal” and teens her age are extraordinarily sensitive about sharing personal information.

In January 2012, Michael Nash, the presiding judge of Los Angeles County Juvenile Court, issued a decree saying dependency hearings, which had always been presumptively closed to the press, would be presumptively open to the media.

A long-time advocate of more open courtrooms, Nash lobbied for legislation in Sacramento that would open the hearings, but it was opposed by unions representing social workers and some groups representing foster children.

Nash has led the county’s Juvenile Court since 1995, and his term ends in January. He’s said he will not seek re-election and he may even leave office early.

Nash plans to write a new order that allows access for reporters and members of the public while complying with the ruling, he told the Times(https://lat.ms/1eRVUCI ).

“I joke that I will either expire or retire,” Nash said.

“Over the last two years, I’m somewhat disappointed that there were not (more) visits to the court by the media. Other than that, I think the old order went well,” Nash said.

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Information from: Los Angeles Times, https://www.latimes.com

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