I have always believed that the name of a juvenile respondent could not be revealed to a crime victim. But I cannot find where in the code it says this. Obviously 58.007 addresses the issue of confidentiality but it plainly states "This section applies only to the inspection and maintenance of a physical record.......etc." Is this enough to require the withholding of a name? Later in the same section, the statute describes specific information, including a juvenile?s name, that a juvenile judge can provide to the public when there is directive to apprehend a juvenile who cannot be located. Should I infer that the name cannot be given out unless specific terms of the statute allow it to be released? Am I just missing something?
You are correct that the statute never says in plain words "you can't give out the name" (to the victim, news media or other public), however, the prohibition on giving out information is implicit in several sections. First, 58.005 "Confidentiality of Records": "Records and files concerning a child, including personally identifiable information, (this last phrase is new, eff. 9-1-03).....may be disclosed only to:", (list of authorized entities follows). Next, 58.007(b) "...records and files of....a prosecuting attorney, relating to a child ...are open to inspection only by:" (another list of authorized entities). Finally, 58.007(c) "...law enforcement files and records concerning a child and information stored, by electronic means or otherwise....may not be disclosed to the public...". NOW, what can be done?? Here in Houston our judges have signed an order authorizing the prosecutor to disclose the names of the juvenile and his parents and their address (but I never give out phone numbers), to the victim (BUT this doesn't include the victim's insurance carrier, etc) for the purpose of pursuing a civil suit for damages. I don't know if all judges would allow that, but having the judge's permission, either a blanket permission or a case-by-case permission would cover you because all the statutory sections of the Family Code allow the information to be disclosed "with leave of the juvenile court" (see 58.005(7) and 58.007(b)(5)).
I have a victim that wants the names of the parents of juveniles involved in a big property damage case. I read your post, Kris, and it sounds like your office asked the court for permission to disclose. However, after reading AG Opinion DM-334, it seems that the victim would need to petition the court to disclose by establishing his "legitimate interest". I have a frustrated victim that is really anxious to pursue the parents in a civil action. Any thoughts as to how I should proceed?
I have the motion for release that we regularly use, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send it too you.
Legitimate interest is not defined anywhere so I have not found it difficult to get the juvi court to release that info in most instances especially if the victim wants the information for a civil suit.
In a case where there is a civil suit, I have seen the victim's civil attorney make application to the court for permission to have information in the files and records. The problem is that usually what they want in that kind of case is the police offense report, and I don't feel that I should be the one to provide that, nor do I feel that they should have this while the case is still a pending case. When the juvenile court case is finished, then they could make application to the court and the police agency could oppose it if they deem it appropriate.
On the other hand, if all they want is the juvenile's parents name and address, the victim can get that from me, since I have permission from the juvenile court to give out that information.