Miami Herald by Carol Marbin Miller
January 26, 2018
For a generation, the Miami-Dade circuit courts have viewed recordings of court proceedings as they did the hearings themselves: They were open to the public.
But this week, in the wake of a tragic death of a 1-year-old Homestead boy, Ethan Coley, court administrators made an abrupt about-face. Recordings of court proceedings about the boy and his five siblings are not like the hearings themselves, administrators say. They are juvenile court records, and therefore not open to public inspection.
Both Chief Judge Bertila Soto and Judge Orlando A. Prescott, who is the administrative judge in the Juvenile Court division, declined to discuss their decision to keep the audio recordings under wraps. In a short statement released through a spokeswoman, the judges said that “electronic records of dependency proceedings are confidential, as are the paper records associated with these cases.” The judges added that a review of recent guidance from state court administrators indicated that they had been in error for several years when they granted access to such recordings. [READ MORE]