Judge asked to open confidential family court hearing involving - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Judge asked to open confidential family court hearing involving foster child to public, media as part of new law

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- For at least the second time, a Jefferson Family Court judge has been asked to open a confidential hearing involving a child "mired" in the state's foster care system, according to court records.

On Wednesday, attorney Karen Faulkner asked Judge Paula Sherlock to open to the public a case in which a child has "remained in foster care for months while there is a suitable family member willing" to take in the juvenile. A hearing has been set for Dec. 1. 

In August, Jefferson Family Court Judge Judith Bartholomew ordered that a similar hearing be open as part of a new law passed this year to allow for more transparency and accountability in the state judicial system. Attorneys believed it was the first time that occurred in Kentucky. 

In that case, the public is allowed to attend hearings about whether several children should remain in foster care instead of going to live with a family member.

Senate Bill 40 authorized a minimum of three family courts to volunteer to open proceedings as part of a four-year pilot project.

Family Court judges hear cases involving child custody, abuse, neglect, dependency, termination of parental rights and divorce proceedings.

Typically, any case involving a juvenile is closed to the public.

In her motion, Faulkner, who represents the family against the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, argues the state has spent thousands of dollars for foster care over the last five months -- at an estimate of $70 a day -- rather than let the child live with relatives.

The family has "been involved the entire time fighting to keep their family together and despite following every directive of CHFS they continue to be severed from" the child.

The family is requesting the case be opened to the public and media because they believe the transparency will help protect the child, Faulkner wrote.

The juvenile is not named in the motion and Faulkner asked Sherlock to not permit the media to identify him or her.

The law to open some family court hearings took effect on July 15. The state Administrative Office of the Courts will monitor the program and provide an annual report on findings and recommendations. 

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