2021 Georgia Code
Title 15 - Courts
Chapter 11 - Juvenile Code
Article 9 - Access to Hearings and Records
§ 15-11-700. Admission to Hearings of General Public and Media

Universal Citation: GA Code § 15-11-700 (2021)
  1. As used in this Code section, the term "dependency proceeding" means a court proceeding stemming from a petition alleging that a child is a dependent child.
  2. The general public shall be admitted to:
    1. An adjudicatory hearing involving an allegation of a class A designated felony act or class B designated felony act;
    2. An adjudicatory hearing involving an allegation of delinquency brought in the interest of any child who has previously been adjudicated for committing a delinquent act; provided, however, the court shall close any delinquency hearing on an allegation of sexual assault or any delinquency hearing at which any party expects to introduce substantial evidence related to matters of dependency;
    3. Any child support hearing;
    4. Any hearing in a legitimation action filed pursuant to Code Section 19-7-22;
    5. At the court's discretion, any dispositional hearing involving any proceeding under this article; or
    6. Any hearing in a dependency proceeding, except as otherwise provided in subsection (c) of this Code section.
  3. The court may close the hearing in a dependency proceeding only upon making a finding upon the record and issuing a signed order stating the reason or reasons for closing all or part of a hearing in such proceeding and stating that:
    1. The proceeding involves an allegation of an act which, if done by an adult, would constitute a sexual offense under Chapter 6 of Title 16; or
    2. It is in the best interests of the child. In making such a determination, the court shall consider such factors as:
      1. The age of the child alleged or adjudicated as a dependent child;
      2. The nature of the allegations;
      3. The effect that an open court proceeding will have on the court's ability to reunite and rehabilitate the family unit; and
      4. Whether the closure is necessary to protect the privacy of a child, of a foster parent or other caretaker of a child, or of a victim of domestic violence.
  4. The court may close a hearing or exclude a person from a hearing in any proceeding on its own motion, by motion of a party to the proceeding, or by motion of the child who is the subject of the proceeding or the child's attorney or guardian ad litem.
  5. Only the parties, their counsel, witnesses, persons accompanying a party for his or her assistance, the victim, and any other persons as the court finds have a proper interest in the proceeding or in the work of the court may be admitted by the court to hearings from which the public is excluded; provided, however, that when the conduct alleged in the dependency proceeding could give rise to a criminal or delinquent act prosecution, attorneys for the prosecution and the defense shall be admitted.
  6. The court may refuse to admit a person to a hearing in any proceeding upon making a finding upon the record and issuing a signed order that the person's presence at the hearing would:
    1. Be detrimental to the best interests of the child who is a party to the proceeding;
    2. Impair the fact-finding process; or
    3. Be otherwise contrary to the interest of justice.
  7. The court may temporarily exclude any child from a termination of parental rights hearing except while allegations of his or her delinquency or child in need of services conduct are being heard.
  8. Any request for installation and use of electronic recording, transmission, videotaping, or motion picture or still photography of any judicial proceeding shall be made to the court at least two days in advance of the hearing. The request shall be evaluated by the court pursuant to the standards set forth in Code Section 15-1-10.1.
  9. The judge may order the media not to release identifying information concerning any child or family members or foster parent or other caretaker of a child involved in hearings open to the public.
  10. The general public shall be excluded from proceedings in juvenile court unless such hearing has been specified as one in which the general public shall be admitted to pursuant to this Code section.

(Code 1981, §15-11-700, enacted by Ga. L. 2013, p. 294, § 1-1/HB 242.)

Cross references.

- Freedom of press, U.S. Const., amend. 1.

Exclusion of public from criminal trials generally, § 17-8-53.

Law reviews.

- For article, "The World Where Parallel Lines Converge: The Privilege Against Self-Incrimination in Concurrent Civil and Criminal Child Abuse Proceedings," see 24 Ga. L. Rev. 473 (1990). For article, "Criminal Procedure," see 27 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 29 (2011).


Editor's notes.

- In light of the similarity of the statutory provisions, decisions under former Code 1933, § 24A-1801, pre-2000 Code Section 15-11-28, and pre-2014 Code Section 15-11-78, which were subsequently repealed but were succeeded by provisions in this Code section, are included in the annotations for this Code section. See the Editor's notes at the beginning of the chapter.

Parents to be present throughout hearing.

- Former statute indicated the legislative plan for the conduct of hearings was for the parents to be present at all times. D.C.A. v. State, 135 Ga. App. 234, 217 S.E.2d 470 (1975) (decided under former Code 1933, § 24A-1801).

Presence of members of the press.

- In a proceeding seeking the termination of parental rights, if no objection to the presence of members of the press is made at any time during the hearing, any enumeration of error is without merit. Heath v. McGuire, 167 Ga. App. 489, 306 S.E.2d 741 (1983) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-28).

Adoption caseworker.

- Trial court did not err by permitting an adoption caseworker to remain in the courtroom during the father's termination of parental rights hearing after the father's counsel invoked the rule of sequestration; the rule of sequestration did not apply because the caseworker was not a witness, and the trial court did not abuse the court's discretion in determining that it was necessary for the caseworker to hear the evidence at the hearing for purposes of efficiency. In the Interest of T.G.Y., 279 Ga. App. 449, 631 S.E.2d 467 (2006) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-78).

Consideration of public's rights to open hearing.

- When a member of the public or press institutes a judicial proceeding to require the opening of a juvenile hearing, the court must, in an expeditious manner, give the public or press an opportunity to present evidence and argument to show that the state's or juvenile's interest in a closed hearing is overridden by the public's interest in a public hearing. Florida Publishing Co. v. Morgan, 253 Ga. 467, 322 S.E.2d 233 (1984) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-28).


Am. Jur. 2d.

- 47 Am. Jur. 2d, Juvenile Courts and Delinquent and Dependent Children, §§ 78 et seq., 91 et seq.


- 43 C.J.S., Infants, § 163 et seq.


- Uniform Juvenile Court Act (U.L.A.) § 24.


- Right to jury trial in juvenile court delinquency proceedings, 100 A.L.R.2d 1241.

Defense of infancy in juvenile delinquency proceedings, 83 A.L.R.4th 1135.

Propriety of exclusion of press or other media representatives from civil trial, 39 A.L.R.5th 103.

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