Wednesday, April 16 2014 10:54 PM EDT2014-04-17 02:54:16 GMT
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You've probably heard about the case of Savannah Dietrich – the teenager who was sexually assaulted by two juveniles at a party. Contrary to the judge's admonition not to discuss the case, she went public with her attackers' names after they received what she considered an excessively lenient plea deal. And that led to a motion by the defense to have Savannah – the victim! -- held in contempt of court.
Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed. But the whole situation makes me wonder if the overly secretive restrictions placed on Juvenile Court proceedings aren't excessive.
I agree that shielding the names of participants in juvenile cases prior to a verdict is probably a good idea, since we already know how easily the reputations of adults can be tarnished by unfounded accusations.
But after the defendants have pled guilty to felony assault? Why shouldn't we know who these people are? I know I'd want to if one lived next door to me.
And what about the plea deal they were offered? If Savannah is right in her contention that it was far too lenient, we should know how that happened. But when everything is done behind closed doors, it's much easier for "good ol' boy" justice to go undetected.
Courts are supposed to determine accountability. So when they embrace a culture of secrecy, it seems to me something's wrong.