Few Changes Eyed for Delaware Family Court Access - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Few Changes Eyed for Delaware Family Court Access

Posted:
DOVER, Del. (AP) - A task force studying the feasibility of opening Delaware Family Court civil proceedings to the public is making only minor recommendations for greater transparency in a report to be submitted to lawmakers.

Delaware's constitution says all courts shall be open, but many Family Court proceedings are nevertheless closed to the public because of laws passed by the General Assembly.

Those closed proceedings include hearings involving adoption, termination of parental rights, custody rights and visitation, guardianship, paternity and divorce.

After months of discussions, the task force is recommending in a report to be submitted to lawmakers next week that most of those proceedings continue to be "presumed closed."

The panel is recommending only that divorce and paternity proceedings be presumed open, rather than closed, while allowing judges wide latitude to close them based on various factors, including what the litigants think.

Similarly, the task force is recommending that judges should have the discretion to open proceedings that are presumably closed if, for instance, one of the parties wants to bring in an outside person for support.

Raetta McCall, a public member of the task force, expressed skepticism about allowing judges the ability to close proceedings that are presumed to be open if they believe circumstances warrant.

"They will keep it closed every time.... This puts it right back to where it was," she said.

But other panel members suggested that in such instances, the court likely would have to meet some burden to overcome the presumption of openness.

"We're going to have to write a decision as to why we're doing that subject to appellate review," said Family Court Judge Michael Newell.

One issue with which the task force struggled is how to consider and protect the interests and desires of children involved in Family Court proceedings. Panel members previously had voted to recommend that custody and visitation proceedings, which currently are presumed closed, be opened to the public. But that decision was reversed after receiving additional information and public input.

Mariann Kenville-Moore, co-chair of the task force, said some of the early votes may have been premature, and that they were more about "taking the temperature" of panel members on where they stood on access to various proceedings at the time.

Kenville-Moore said that more than half of the comments received by the task force favored continued privacy, while about 40 percent favored more openness.

Family Court Chief Judge Chandlee Kuhn told fellow task force members that the court must weigh the privacy and personal interests of litigants with public trust and confidence in the court.

"In all our decision making, we need to strike that balance," she said.
  • Delmarvawide NewsDelmarvawide NewsMore>>

  • Harrington Man Charged with 4th DUI

    Harrington Man Charged with 4th DUI

    Monday, October 22 2018 9:00 AM EDT2018-10-22 13:00:59 GMT
    Monday, October 22 2018 9:00 AM EDT2018-10-22 13:00:59 GMT
    HARRINGTON, Del. - A Harrington man has been arrested and charged with driving under the influence for a fourth time. On Saturday, police stopped Lamontra R. Fountain 39, in Harrington for a traffic violation. The officer reported smelling the odor of alcMore
    HARRINGTON, Del. - A Harrington man has been arrested and charged with driving under the influence for a fourth time. On Saturday, police stopped Lamontra R. Fountain 39, in Harrington for a traffic violation. The officer reported smelling the odor of alcMore
  • Trial to Start for Delaware Police Chief Accused of DUI

    Trial to Start for Delaware Police Chief Accused of DUI

    Monday, October 22 2018 8:03 AM EDT2018-10-22 12:03:22 GMT
    Monday, October 22 2018 8:03 AM EDT2018-10-22 12:03:22 GMT
    Clayton Police Chief Brian HillClayton Police Chief Brian Hill
    Clayton Police Chief Brian HillClayton Police Chief Brian Hill
    A jury trial is set to start for a Delaware police chief accused of drunken driving.More
    A jury trial is set to start for a Delaware police chief accused of drunken driving.      More
  • Opening Statements Set in Deadly Delaware Prison Riot Prosecution

    Opening Statements Set in Deadly Delaware Prison Riot Prosecution

    Monday, October 22 2018 8:00 AM EDT2018-10-22 12:00:15 GMT
    Monday, October 22 2018 8:00 AM EDT2018-10-22 12:00:15 GMT
    Opening statements are set in the trial of four Delaware inmates charged with murder, kidnapping and other crimes following a deadly riot at Delaware's largest prison.More
    Opening statements are set in the trial of four Delaware inmates charged with murder, kidnapping and other crimes following a deadly riot at Delaware's largest prison. More
  • Most Popular VideosMost Popular VideosMore>>

  • Living Life to the Fullest with Beau Smith

    Living Life to the Fullest with Beau Smith

    The saying live every day like it is your last stands true for one young man on Delmarva. WBOC's Erin Tyszko takes us on a journey with Beau Smith.

    More

    The saying live every day like it is your last stands true for one young man on Delmarva. WBOC's Erin Tyszko takes us on a journey with Beau Smith.

    More
  • Somerset County Teacher Faces Child Abuse Charges

    Somerset County Teacher Faces Child Abuse Charges

    People in one Somerset County community are shocked after finding out one of their Elementary teachers is charged with allowing a man to sexually assault her 10 year old relative. 

    That teacher is 30 year-old Brittney Hughes of Salisbury, Md. Hughes was a first grade teacher at Carter  G. Woodson Elementary School in Crisfield. 

    More

    People in one Somerset County community are shocked after finding out one of their Elementary teachers is charged with allowing a man to sexually assault her 10 year old relative. 

    That teacher is 30 year-old Brittney Hughes of Salisbury, Md. Hughes was a first grade teacher at Carter  G. Woodson Elementary School in Crisfield. 

    More
  • Sunday Morning Weather October 21, 2018

    Sunday Morning Weather October 21, 2018

    Gear up for a chilly and windy day. The winds will stick around through much of today and it will get colder tonight. 

    More

    Gear up for a chilly and windy day. The winds will stick around through much of today and it will get colder tonight. 

    More
Powered by Frankly

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 WBOC. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices