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Lewes, Delaware
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November 19, 2004     Cape Gazette
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November 19, 2004
 

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CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, Nov. 19 - Nov. 22, 2004 - 19 Common Cause hearing Nov. 22 to focus on opening Family Court By Jim Cresson Common Cause of Delaware wants to hear what the public has to say about opening Family Court proceedings and records to the public. The nonprofit, nonpartisan citi- zens advocacy group has sched- uled a hearing at 6 p.m., Monday, Nov. 22i at the renovated George- town train station, 140 Layton Ave. Georgetown. John Flaherty, legislative lobby- ist for Common Cause, said that unlike most other states, Family Court of Delaware presumes that all cases are closed. Litigants must request their cases be open. Flaherty said that should be re- versed - as in most states - with all cases presumed to be open unless mandated by state law to be closed. 'qn the past year or so, we've had a large number of people come to Common Cause meetings to complain about the court's poli- cies on public openness," Flaherty said, "Since we've held these hear- ings on the issue, the responses have been overwhelmingly affir- mative that Family Court hearings should be open. People say the perceived secrecy surrounding Family Court hearings, records and decisions adds to the mys, tique of the court. They say the presumption of Family Court should be more open than it is." In 1997, former state Rep. John Schroeder of Lewes sponsored a resolution calling for Family Court to open its proceedings and records. Approved in July 1997, the resolution noted that Family Court's statewide jurisdiction cov- ers all domestic relations, juvenile delinquency and intra-family mis- demeanors and intensely affects the lives of many Delaware resi- dents. The resolution called for the court to open its proceedings and records for all cases not specifi- cally ordered closed by state law. At the same time, the resolution called for the court to study the ef- fects of opening proceedings, with a focus on security, timeli- ness, records management, quali- ty of litigation and privacy con- cerns of litigants and their fami- lies. The report was issued in 1998. "A task force was formed for the study," said Flaherty. "The task force concluded that opening Family Court could have a tremendous effect on the need for more court security. Because of that, no real changes were made." Flaherty said people who have testified during two earlier Com- mon Cause hearings recognize that Family Court deals with some very difficult issues. But, he said, people have testi- fied they would prefer open pro- Continued on page 21 after thanksgiving NOVEMBER 26TH-28TH Tanger Outlet Centers will have_extended hours all weekend long: You'll find early bird specials for all srhart bargain hunters. SPECIAL HOURS Friday, Nov. 26th: 8am-9pm Saturday, Nov. 27th" 8am-9pm Sunday, Nov. 28th: lOam-Tpm Estates Wanted CONSIGNMENTS BEING ACCEPTED FOR STUART KINGSTON SERIES OF AUCTIONS ANTIQUE FURNITURE, ART, RUGS, JEWELRY, CRYSTAL, SILVER, TOYS, AUTOMO- BILES AND COLLECTIBLES NO ITEM TOO SMALL. NO ESTATE TOO LARGE CALL FOR DATES & APPRAISALS STUART K00GSTON, One Grenoble Place ][ Rehoboth, DE 19971 l[ WWW.SrU^RrKINOsTortcoM 11 tangeroutlet.com for Special Holiday Offers & Early Store Openings SHOP TAX-FREE AT OVER 10 BRAND NAME OUTLET STORES Rehoboth Beach, DE = Route 1 to Rehoboth Beach 866.665.8682 Visit our other great Tanger Outlet Center location in Lancaster, PA 800.408.3477 ..... : ..................... m CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, Nov. 19 - Nov. 22, 2004 - 19 Common Cause hearing Nov. 22 to focus on opening Family Court By Jim Cresson Common Cause of Delaware wants to hear what the public has to say about opening Family Court proceedings and records to the public. The nonprofit, nonpartisan citi- zens advocacy group has sched- uled a hearing at 6 p.m., Monday, Nov. 22i at the renovated George- town train station, 140 Layton Ave. Georgetown. John Flaherty, legislative lobby- ist for Common Cause, said that unlike most other states, Family Court of Delaware presumes that all cases are closed. Litigants must request their cases be open. Flaherty said that should be re- versed - as in most states - with all cases presumed to be open unless mandated by state law to be closed. 'qn the past year or so, we've had a large number of people come to Common Cause meetings to complain about the court's poli- cies on public openness," Flaherty said, "Since we've held these hear- ings on the issue, the responses have been overwhelmingly affir- mative that Family Court hearings should be open. People say the perceived secrecy surrounding Family Court hearings, records and decisions adds to the mys, tique of the court. They say the presumption of Family Court should be more open than it is." In 1997, former state Rep. John Schroeder of Lewes sponsored a resolution calling for Family Court to open its proceedings and records. Approved in July 1997, the resolution noted that Family Court's statewide jurisdiction cov- ers all domestic relations, juvenile delinquency and intra-family mis- demeanors and intensely affects the lives of many Delaware resi- dents. The resolution called for the court to open its proceedings and records for all cases not specifi- cally ordered closed by state law. At the same time, the resolution called for the court to study the ef- fects of opening proceedings, with a focus on security, timeli- ness, records management, quali- ty of litigation and privacy con- cerns of litigants and their fami- lies. The report was issued in 1998. "A task force was formed for the study," said Flaherty. "The task force concluded that opening Family Court could have a tremendous effect on the need for more court security. Because of that, no real changes were made." Flaherty said people who have testified during two earlier Com- mon Cause hearings recognize that Family Court deals with some very difficult issues. But, he said, people have testi- fied they would prefer open pro- Continued on page 21 after thanksgiving NOVEMBER 26TH-28TH Tanger Outlet Centers will have_extended hours all weekend long: You'll find early bird specials for all srhart bargain hunters. SPECIAL HOURS Friday, Nov. 26th: 8am-9pm Saturday, Nov. 27th" 8am-9pm Sunday, Nov. 28th: lOam-Tpm Estates Wanted CONSIGNMENTS BEING ACCEPTED FOR STUART KINGSTON SERIES OF AUCTIONS ANTIQUE FURNITURE, ART, RUGS, JEWELRY, CRYSTAL, SILVER, TOYS, AUTOMO- BILES AND COLLECTIBLES NO ITEM TOO SMALL. NO ESTATE TOO LARGE CALL FOR DATES & APPRAISALS STUART K00GSTON, One Grenoble Place ][ Rehoboth, DE 19971 l[ WWW.SrU^RrKINOsTortcoM 11 tangeroutlet.com for Special Holiday Offers & Early Store Openings SHOP TAX-FREE AT OVER 10 BRAND NAME OUTLET STORES Rehoboth Beach, DE = Route 1 to Rehoboth Beach 866.665.8682 Visit our other great Tanger Outlet Center location in Lancaster, PA 800.408.3477 ..... : ..................... m