Rule 114. Confidentiality of Proceedings

Rule 114. Confidentiality of Proceedings

(a)   Dependent and Neglect Proceedings.  Dependent and neglect cases shall not be open to the public.

(b)  Delinquent and Unruly Proceedings.  Delinquent and unruly cases are open to the public. However, in the discretion of the court, the general public may be excluded from any proceeding. On application of a party or on the court’s own initiative, the court may determine that a proceeding, in whole or in part, should be closed except to those persons having a direct interest in the case. In determining whether to close the proceedings, and thereby balancing the interests of the parties and the public’s interests in open proceedings, the court shall apply the following rules:

(1)  When closure is sought by a party:

(A) The party seeking to close the hearing shall have the burden of proof;

(B) The court shall not close proceedings to any extent unless it determines that failure to do so would result in particularized prejudice to the party seeking closure that would override the public’s compelling interest in open proceedings;

(C)  Any order of closure must not be broader than necessary to protect the determined interests of the party seeking closure;

(2)  The juvenile court must consider reasonable alternatives to closure of proceedings; and

(3)  The juvenile court must make adequate written findings to support any order of closure.

Advisory Commission Comments.

This rule clarifies that dependent and neglect cases should be closed and not open to the public. This proceeding should be open to only those persons who are necessary to the particular proceeding.

State v. James, 902 S.W.2d 911 (Tenn. 1995) authorizes the closure process specified in subdivision (b) for delinquent and unruly cases. Such proceedings “may” be closed only through the process as outlined above.