Bill Text: TX SB529 | 2019-2020 | 86th Legislature | Introduced


Bill Title: Relating to public access to juvenile court proceedings.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Republican 1-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2019-02-21 - Referred to Criminal Justice [SB529 Detail]

Download: Texas-2019-SB529-Introduced.html
  86R1435 ADM-D
 
  By: Birdwell S.B. No. 529
 
 
 
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
 
AN ACT
  relating to public access to juvenile court proceedings.
         BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
         SECTION 1.  Section 54.08, Family Code, is amended to read as
  follows:
         Sec. 54.08.  PUBLIC ACCESS TO COURT PROCEEDINGS [HEARINGS].  
  (a)  Except as provided by this section, the court shall open
  proceedings [hearings] under this title to the public unless the
  court, on the motion of any party to a proceeding and based on the
  evidence presented [for good cause shown], determines that:
               (1)  there exists a reasonable and substantial basis
  for believing that public access to the proceeding could harm the
  child, endanger the child's right to a fair trial, or endanger a
  victim of the conduct of the child;
               (2)  the potential for harm to the child or a victim
  outweighs the benefits of public access to the proceeding; and
               (3)  the harm can be remedied only by excluding the
  public from the proceeding [the public should be excluded].
         (b)  A motion by a party to exclude the public from a
  proceeding must be made in writing and served on all parties not
  later than the third day before the date the proceeding is scheduled
  to occur.
         (c)  On receipt of a motion to exclude the public from a
  proceeding, the court must conduct an evidentiary hearing in open
  court on the motion to determine whether exclusion of the public
  from the proceeding is warranted under Subsection (a).  General
  considerations, including concern for rehabilitation of the child,
  are insufficient to warrant exclusion of the public from a
  proceeding.
         (d)  On conclusion of the evidentiary hearing under
  Subsection (c), the court shall order the proceeding to be open to
  the public unless the court issues written findings of fact and
  conclusions of law stating that the evidence of potential harm to
  the child or to a victim presented under Subsection (a) clearly
  outweighs the public interest in a proceeding that is open to the
  public.
         (e)  Any party to a proceeding has standing to appeal an
  order of the court excluding the public from the proceeding.
         (f)  Any party to a proceeding objecting to an order
  excluding the public from the proceeding is entitled to an
  immediate appeal of that order.  The notice of appeal must be filed
  not later than the seventh day after the date the order is entered
  or the date the public is excluded from the proceeding.  The filing
  of a notice of appeal shall stay further proceedings pending the
  disposition of the interlocutory appeal. 
         (g)  The court of appeals shall expeditiously review an
  appeal under this section.
         (h)  The court may not prohibit a person who is a victim of
  the conduct of a child, or the person's family, from personally
  attending a proceeding [hearing] under this title relating to the
  conduct by the child unless the victim or member of the victim's
  family is to testify in the proceeding [hearing] or any subsequent
  proceeding [hearing] relating to the conduct and the court
  determines that the victim's or family member's testimony would be
  materially affected if the victim or member of the victim's family
  hears other testimony at trial.
         (i) [(c)]  If a child is under the age of 14 at the time of
  the proceeding: [hearing,]
               (1)  Subsections (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), (f), and (g)
  do not apply to a proceeding involving the child; and
               (2)  the court shall close the proceeding [hearing] to
  the public unless the court finds that the interests of the child or
  the interests of the public would be better served by opening the
  proceeding [hearing] to the public.
         (j) [(d)]  In this section, "family" has the meaning
  assigned by Section 71.003.
         SECTION 2.  This Act takes effect September 1, 2019.
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