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In re JS
Vermont Supreme Court
438 A.2d 1125 (1981)
Fifteen-year-old JS (defendant) and a 16-year-old were charged with sexually assaulting two 12-year-old girls, murdering one of the girls, and attempting to murder the other one. The 16-year-old was charged in criminal court, but JS was charged in juvenile court. Vermont had a law closing juvenile-court proceedings to the public. However, the press had learned JS’s real name from the 16-year-old’s criminal proceedings. A newspaper petitioned for access to attend and cover JS’s juvenile-court proceedings. The United States Supreme Court had recently held that the public and the press had a First Amendment right of access to criminal trials. The juvenile court found that this right of access extended to juvenile-court proceedings, which meant that the Vermont statute closing the proceedings was unconstitutional. The state and JS appealed the ruling, seeking to keep JS’s juvenile-court proceedings closed to the public and the press.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Underwood, J.)
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