New York Family Courts Open to the Public

16002-New York Family CourtRecently, I wrote about the lack of openness in New York’s Family Courts; causal observers were barred from the courtrooms which were only accessible to the litigants and their attorneys.

The Office of Court Administration just issued a set of  Guidelines for Family Court judges to ensure open access to the courts by the public and the press. The guidelines provide that:

• In a respectful manner, court staff may ask each person who seeks entrance to a courtroom if he or she is a party, witness or otherwise associated with a specific calendared case.

• A person who wishes to observe the proceedings will be permitted to sit in the courtroom subject to the limitations of courtroom capacity.

• Courtroom staff will inform the judge if there is a member of the press or an observer in the courtroom and whether or not he or she has any role in the case.

• When a case is called, the judge may advise the parties that there is an observer in the courtroom and ask if anyone has an objection.

• On a case-by-case basis, prior to ordering exclusion, the judge must make findings, based on supporting evidence, that the exclusion is warranted.

According to the New York Journal, “Judges are supposed to exclude the public only if the person is likely to cause a disruption, one of the parties objects for a compelling reason or when the protection of children requires that some or all observers be excluded from the courtroom."


38 Responses

  1. Some court proceedings really need privacy and security. Public viewing is really not a good option for it.
  2. Agreed. The Judge always has the option to clear the courtroom. Daniel Clement
  3. I disagree. Westchester family Court is closed to the public, because judges ignore the laws. I believe it is imperative that the courts be open, not to "air dirty laundry" but to keep judges honest. I and many of my readers have been abused by Judges who refuse to follow the law. I have started a program in which women who have suffered in the courts will come to witness cases for each other. Lippman said he would put cameras back in the courts and I think its way overdue. Maybe Furman, Connolly, et al will think twice before screaming and otherwise harassing former housewives.
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