Demonstrators gathered outside the Edmund D. Edelman Children’s Court in Los Angeles today to express support for Presiding Judge Michael Nash’s 2012 blanket order easing media and public access to the County’s Juvenile Dependency Court.
Last week, a California Court of Appeal issued a tentative ruling that Nash’s order violates state law.
The demonstrators represented two groups: DCFS Give Us Back Our Children and Every Mother is a Working Mother Network. They waved signs, handed out flyers and alternated between chanting “Keep the courts open” and “Give us back our children.”
A few parents and grandparents shared personal stories with the crowd. Speakers frequently referred to open courts as a “sunshine disinfectant” that wipes out secrecy in dependency court.
Up to 30 people milled about the steps of the courthouse including families, children, attorneys, and other court staff. Judge Nash made a brief appearance at the back of the crowd.
Nash ruled in January that Los Angeles dependency courts should be presumptively open to the media. The announcement inverted the policy of the courts, which before had been presumptively closed.
California’s Second District Court of Appeal ruled last week that “it is for the Legislature, not the courts, to effect changes to the system it has put in place.” The appeal was filed by a 15-year-old girl after access was granted to The Los Angeles Times to attend a hearing about her potential placement in foster care following an assault by her stepfather.
The Court of Appeal will convene on the issue tomorrow, December 19, in downtown Los Angeles.