A bill approved by a Kentucky Senate committee Thursday would allow the state to experiment with open juvenile trials.
Family court judges have argued in the past that more public scrutiny could improve the state’s child protection system and give the public a clearer window in the process. Currently, the public cannot attend the proceedings, but Senate Bill 157 would permit select districts to open trials related to dependency, neglect, abuse, termination of parental rights, and felony cases involving juveniles over the age of 14.
Bill sponsor Republican Sen. David Givens says the bill seeks to answer a number of questions.
"Are there adverse effects that result from the opening of these proceedings? Are there benefits to the litigants and particularly to the taxpaying public that funds the operations of the courts? Is justice being done?" Givens asks.
Under the bill, the Kentucky Supreme Court and the Administrative Office of the Courts would select districts to take part in the four-year trial.
Similar legislation has failed to get off the ground in past sessions. SB 157 now moves to the full Senate.