Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.


April 13, 1990.


The opinion of the court was delivered by

This is an original action in mandamus by Stauffer Communications, Inc., (Stauffer) which owns and operates the Topeka Capital-Journal, a daily newspaper of general circulation, against Judge Daniel L. Mitchell of the Third Judicial District, who is assigned all juvenile cases in that district. Stauffer seeks an order commanding Judge Mitchell to open to the public all detention hearings and other preliminary matters involving juveniles over the age of 15 held pursuant to the Kansas Juvenile Offenders Code, K.S.A. 38-1601 et seq.

[246 Kan. 493]


The Kansas Juvenile Offenders Code (Code) is to be liberally construed so that each juvenile shall receive the care, custody, guidance, control, and discipline, preferably in the juvenile's own home, as will best serve the juvenile's rehabilitation and the protection of society. Proceedings under the Code are not to import a criminal act on the part of a juvenile, but are deemed to have been taken and done in the exercise of the parental power of the state. K.S.A. 38-1601.

  Subject to specific statutory exceptions, "juvenile offender" means a person who does an act while a juvenile which if done by an adult would be a felony or a misdemeanor as defined by K.S.A. 21-3105. K.S.A. 1989 Supp. 38-1602(b).

  Under the Code, an action is commenced by the filing of a verified complaint. K.S.A. 38-1621. In addition to other statutory information, the complaint must state plainly and concisely the essential facts constituting the offense charged. After the complaint has been served and the juvenile is brought before the court, and the court finds it necessary to hold a detention hearing, the court sets the time and place for the hearing.

  The purpose of the detention hearing is to determine whether (1) to place the juvenile in a juvenile detention facility; (2) to allow the juvenile to be released to the custody of his parents, or; (3) where it is not necessary to detain the juvenile, to place the juvenile in temporary custody of a youth residential facility, the secretary of SRS, or some other suitable person willing to accept temporary custody if the court finds it is not in the best interest of the juvenile to release the juvenile to the custody of a parent. If the court finds that the juvenile is dangerous to self or others, the juvenile may be detained in a juvenile detention facility or youth residential facility designated by the court. K.S.A. 38-1632.

  After the detention hearing and all pretrial matters have been completed, the case is set for an adjudicatory hearing. The adjudicatory hearing of the juvenile is similar to the trial of an adult charged with a crime. The rules of evidence of the code of civil procedure apply. The proof required to prove the act alleged in the complaint is proof beyond a reasonable doubt. When the offense alleged is a felony under the adult code of criminal procedure, the judge may order the case tried to a jury. If the trier

[246 Kan. 494]

      of fact determines that the evidence fails to prove the offense charged or an included offense as defined in K.S.A. 21-3107(2), the court dismisses the charge.

  On September 22, 1989, Judge Mitchell conducted detention hearings involving two juveniles, both over the age of 15, charged with aggravated kidnapping, rape, and attempted rape. Michael Ryan, the legal affairs reporter for the Capital-Journal, was denied access to these hearings. Judge Mitchell informed Ryan that, unlike adjudicatory hearings conducted pursuant to K.S.A. 38-1652, there was no statutory basis for allowing the public to attend detention hearings. Later, Judge Mitchell ordered the detention of the two juveniles, and the orders were placed in the official file, which is available to the public pursuant to K.S.A. 1989 Supp. 38-1607(a).

  Stauffer claims the legislature intended that detention hearings and other preliminary matters, held pursuant to the Kansas Juvenile Offenders Code, be open to the public when juveniles over the age of 15 are involved.

  Although the hearings Ryan sought to attend have already been held, the parties concur that this situation will recur and continue to evade judicial review. Accordingly, the issue should not be regarded as moot. Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 125, 35 L.Ed.2d 147, 93 S.Ct. 705 (1973).

  The parties also agree that this case does not involve constitutional interpretation. In In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1, 25, 18 L.Ed.2d 527, 87 S.Ct. 1428 (1967), the United States Supreme Court held that states may protect the confidentiality of juvenile proceedings without violating the Constitution. Citing Gault, other states have upheld the constitutionality of statutes which exclude the press from juvenile proceedings. See Edward A. Sherman ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.