Kleppe v. Superior Court of Marin County and Marin County Petition

Published On: March 1, 2010


The Youth Law Center filed Kleppe v. Superior Court of Marin County and Marin County on March 10, 2010 in the California First District Court of Appeal charging Marin County and Marin Superior Court officials with violating state law and the Constitutional rights of youth detained in Marin County Juvenile Hall by preventing the children from being physically present for delinquency court hearings.

Citing a lack of money for security as an issue, officials from Marin Superior Court recently decided juvenile court hearings would be moved to the Marin Civic Center courthouse, along with all parties to the hearing – except for the minor and his or her lawyer. Prior to this decision, juvenile delinquency hearings for children detained in Marin County Juvenile Hall had been held three times a week in the afternoon at a courtroom at the Juvenile Hall in San Rafael.

Now, under a Superior Court Order, the judge, witnesses, alleged victims, family members, the prosecutor, and probation staff would all be in a courtroom, but the child who is the subject of the hearing and his or her lawyer would “appear” by videoconference from a music room at the Juvenile Hall, four miles away. All records, reports, and evidence considered by the judge would be at the Civic Center courthouse.

The suit, Kleppe v. Superior Court of Marin County and Marin County, alleges that juvenile hearings held by video conference violates state law, as well as children’s federal and state Constitutional rights to due process, confrontation, and effective assistance of counsel. The case is brought by taxpayer plaintiff Johanna Kleppe, an advocate for abused and neglected children. The lawsuit names the Superior Court of Marin County, as well as Marin County as defendants.

In addition to the violations of the U.S. and California Constitutions, the case alleges violation of Section 679 of the California Welfare and Institutions Code, which gives juveniles the right to be present at their delinquency hearings.

YLC Staff Attorneys Corene Kendrick, Sue Burrell, Maria Ramiu, and Skadden Fellow Damon King are working on the case.

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