2021 Georgia Code
Title 15 - Courts
Chapter 11 - Juvenile Code
Article 9 - Access to Hearings and Records
§ 15-11-704. Public Inspection of Court Files and Records; Use in Subsequent Juvenile or Criminal Prosecution

Universal Citation: GA Code § 15-11-704 (2021)
  1. Except as provided in subsection (b) of this Code section and Code Sections 15-11-705 and 15-11-706, all files and records of the court in a proceeding under this chapter shall be open to inspection only upon order of the court.
  2. The general public shall be allowed to inspect court files and records for any proceeding that was open to the public pursuant to paragraphs (1) through (5) of subsection (b) of Code Section 15-11-700.
  3. A judge may permit authorized representatives of recognized organizations compiling statistics for proper purposes to inspect and make abstracts from official records under whatever conditions upon their use and distribution such judge may deem proper and may punish by contempt any violation of those conditions.
  4. A judge shall permit authorized representatives of DJJ, the Governor's Office for Children and Families, the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, the Administrative Office of the Courts, and the Council of Juvenile Court Judges to inspect and extract data from any court files and records for the purpose of obtaining statistics on children and to make copies pursuant to the order of the court. Such data shall be used by the inspecting agency for official purposes and shall not be subject to release by such agency pursuant to Article 4 of Chapter 18 of Title 50, nor subject to subpoena.
  5. Except as otherwise provided in Code Sections 15-11-701 and 15-11-703, the complaint, petition, order of adjudication, and order of disposition in any delinquency case shall be disclosed upon request of the prosecuting attorney or the accused for use preliminarily to or in conjunction with a subsequent juvenile or criminal proceeding in a court of record.

(Code 1981, §15-11-704, enacted by Ga. L. 2013, p. 294, § 1-1/HB 242; Ga. L. 2015, p. 890, § 4/HB 263.)

Cross references.

- Inspection of public records generally, § 50-18-70 et seq.

Law reviews.

- For comment criticizing Davis v. Alaska, 415 U.S. 308, 94 S. Ct. 1105, 39 L. Ed. 2d 347 (1974), holding petitioner's right to confrontation was preeminent to state policy protecting anonymity of juvenile offenders, see 26 Mercer L. Rev. 343 (1974).

JUDICIAL DECISIONS

Editor's notes.

- In light of the similarity of the statutory provisions, decisions under former Code 1933, § 24A-3501, which was subsequently repealed but was 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.

Right to effective assistance of counsel and withholding inspection.

- While former Code 1933, §§ 24A-3501 and 24A-3502 (see now O.C.G.A. §§ 15-11-704 and15-11-708) both require the consent of the court to inspect a juvenile's records and files, a juvenile's right to effective assistance of counsel limited the court's discretion to withhold such consent from counsel representing the juvenile in a "critically important" transfer proceeding. R.S. v. State, 156 Ga. App. 460, 274 S.E.2d 810 (1980) (decided under former Code 1933, § 24A-3501).

Erroneous ruling if court limited access of defense counsel.

- If the court granted defense counsel's motion pursuant to former Code 1933, §§ 24A-3501 and 24A-3502 (see now O.C.G.A. §§ 15-11-704 and15-11-708) but limited access to only those files and records of appellant which would be "used against" the juvenile concerned at the transfer hearing, to the extent that the appellant's counsel was not granted access to files and records of the appellant which were considered by the juvenile court in transferring jurisdiction, the ruling was erroneous. R.S. v. State, 156 Ga. App. 460, 274 S.E.2d 810 (1980) (decided under former Code 1933, § 24A-3501).

Effect of limited access to materials.

- While allowing counsel access to materials which will be "used against" a juvenile serves the defensive purpose of ensuring that any adverse material considered by the court will be subject to attack and refutation, it denies counsel the opportunity to examine, for the purpose of discovering and ensuring that proper and due consideration is given thereto, any material to be considered by the court which might serve as a reasonable ground for retaining, rather than transferring, jurisdiction. R.S. v. State, 156 Ga. App. 460, 274 S.E.2d 810 (1980) (decided under former Code 1933, § 24A-3501).

Right to view records and files considered but not relied upon.

- Not only are a juvenile and a juvenile's counsel entitled to know what information in the juvenile's records and files the court relied upon in the court's adverse decision to transfer jurisdiction, but the juvenile and counsel are also entitled to view those records and files considered but not relied upon by the juvenile judge. R.S. v. State, 156 Ga. App. 460, 274 S.E.2d 810 (1980) (decided under former Code 1933, § 24A-3501).

OPINIONS OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

Editor's notes.

- In light of the similarity of the statutory provisions, opinions under former Code 1933, § 24A-3501, and pre-2000 Code Section 15-11-58, 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.

Requests to inspect should be denied except if specifically provided.

- Legislature intended that requests to inspect court files and records in situations other than those that are specifically provided for in Ga. L. 1971, p. 709, § 1 should ordinarily be denied. 1976 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U76-7 (decided under former Code 1933, § 24A-3501).

Considering former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-58 (see now O.C.G.A. § 15-11-704) in the statute's entirety, it appears that the General Assembly intended that requests to inspect juvenile court files and records, in situations other than those that are specifically provided for in that section, should ordinarily be denied. 1981 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U81-34 (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-58).

Discretion of judge over inspection and copying of records.

- Judge may as a matter of discretion release copies of files and records in any case in which the judge may permit inspection; however, a judge could in the judge's discretion permit inspection and still refuse to release copies, or the judge could impose conditions upon the use and distribution of copies. 1976 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U76-7 (decided under former Code 1933, § 24A-3501).

Access to records by superior court judge.

- Superior court judge is not entitled to have access to juvenile court records relating to a defendant before the judge in any hearing or proceeding prior to the defendant's conviction of a felony. 1986 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U86-36 (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-58).

Court orders for the release of information should be written. 1987 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U87-18 (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-58).

Conditions for release.

- Juvenile court should only release information regarding a child's delinquency charges when disclosure is found to be in the child's own interest or otherwise mandated by the Constitution. 1987 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U87-18 (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-58).

Inspection by employees of adult parole and probation offices.

- Pursuant to former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-58 (see now O.C.G.A. § 15-11-704), a juvenile court judge may, in the judge's discretion, permit employees of an adult probation office and an adult parole office to inspect juvenile court records, except in cases when those records have been sealed under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-61 (see now O.C.G.A. § 15-11-701). 1981 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U81-34 (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-58).

RESEARCH REFERENCES

Am. Jur. 2d.

- 47 Am. Jur. 2d, Juvenile Courts and Delinquent and Dependent Children, § 116. 66 Am. Jur. 2d, Records and Recording Laws, § 28.

C.J.S.

- 43 C.J.S., Infants, § 254. 76 C.J.S., Records, § 41 et seq.

ALR.

- Restricting public access to judicial records of state courts, 84 A.L.R.3d 598.

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