Should CACR 22 apply to the juvenile justice system?
Yes. Victims in juvenile cases should be entitled to the basic constitutional rights provided by CACR 22. The goals of the juvenile justice system are two-fold: 1) to protect the community, hold a juvenile accountable for their actions; and 2) to impose a rehabilitative plan for the minor defendant, guided by the least restrictive alternative in each case.
Every state that has victims’ rights legislation also has laws that protect the confidentiality of minors in juvenile proceedings. Judges in those states, in enforcing a victim’s right to be present and be heard throughout delinquency proceedings, in no way ceases to protect the confidentiality of a minor, nor are they derailed by victims’ rights from the goal of rehabilitation and community protection.
Current NH law protects the confidentiality of minors in juvenile proceedings. Under current NH state statute, a victim, their counsel, a victim witness advocate, or another person chosen by the victim can be present in juvenile proceedings. It is important to note that it also prohibits a victim from disclosing any confidential information to any person not authorized or entitled to it. Disclosure of any such confidential information is a misdemeanor. Nothing under CACR 22 changes this or compromises the confidentiality of a minor offender.
Existing laws in NH, and around the country, exclude the public from juvenile courtrooms and prohibit anyone privy to the proceeding from discussing outside of the courtroom, what occurs inside a courtroom. Nothing in CACR 22 changes the umbrella of confidentiality over these proceedings.
For over 30 years, victims’ rights have been exercised and enforced in juvenile courts around the country without any evidence of confidentiality or the principle of rehabilitation being compromised.