Unlike judges in trials of adults, juvenile court judges do not have to make proceedings open to the public, the Utah Court of Appeals panel has ruled.
The panel upheld Judge Sharon McCully's closure of a juvenile court hearing of then-17-year-old Nicholas Byrd, who was charged with kidnapping the son of Utah industrialist Jon Huntsman and stabbing an FBI agent.The Kearns-Tribune Corp., parent of The Salt Lake Tribune, filed an appeal challenging the decision to close the hearing held last year to determine whether Byrd should be tried in adult court or juvenile court.
The three-judge panel's decision, written by Judge Pamela Greenwood, ruled juvenile court hearings need not be held to the same standard as adult courts when determining the public's right to access.
The right of public and press access is not absolute and may be denied if it is decided the denial is necessitated by a compelling governmental interest, she said.
Juvenile proceedings differ from adult proceedings in that the court must address the needs of the juvenile defendant, as well as mete out justice, she said.
Byrd eventually was charged in 3rd District Court with aggravated kidnapping and attempted criminal homicide. A defense appeal of McCully's decision to have him tried as an adult still is pending.