Social media and texting has been introduced as evidence in court for several years but has been getting more attention lately. What makes the case of the Ohio teens, who have been recently found guilty in juvenile court, interesting is how public the trial was, says retired Superior Court Judge Eugene Hyman.
What this case presents, from an evidentiary standpoint when one is being prosecuted, is how the new media is being used in terms of that prosecution, how it's being used in terms of admittance, its foundational requirements and the right to cross examine. Traditionally, Hyman says that juvenile court is private but the judge in this case decided a public trial would benefit in terms of confidence and understanding.
Under the law, Hyman says it makes no difference if the penetration is being done for sexual reasons, no matter the object being used. He also says that juveniles that are being prosecuted are entitled to each of the same rights as adults, with the only exception being the right to a jury trial. In an adult court, the purpose is prosecution and in a juvenile court, the purpose is accountability and rehabilitation. While confinement exists in both, in juvenile court, the whole purpose is to rehabilitate, therefore, there is no need for a jury trial.
In Hyman's experience, there have been cases where a juvenile can spend more time in a juvenile facility than they would have if they had gone to adult court.
Honorable Judge Eugene Hyman has received numerous awards and recognition for his work with families and children and has appeared on numerous television news shows. For more information, visit www.judgehyman.com. He is also a featured commentator on The Family Law Channel and The Legal Broadcast Network.