The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada filed a lawsuit to protect the public’s right to access family court proceedings. Nearly half of the district courts in Clark County are family courts, but a recent rule in the Eighth Judicial District Court allows for closing court proceedings to the public without cause.
The ACLU of Nevada is representing Our Nevada Judges, a community organization that educates the public about the courts and reports on judicial activity. The case, Falconi v. Eighth Judicial District Court, Case No. 84947, is before the Nevada Supreme Court.
The public has a right to access our courts under the First Amendment. Because the public elects its judges in Nevada, First Amendment access to the courts is critical to government transparency so that the public can hold courts accountable for misconduct. Without access, Nevadans have no mechanism to ensure family court proceedings are fair or honest.
Multiple incidents over the last several years have highlighted the need for accountability within the family court system, including incidents of judges acting unprofessionally towards domestic violence survivors and children. Transparency and public accountability are especially crucial for cases that involve parties who have engaged in cycles of domestic violence and often maintain financial advantages. Closing court proceedings without cause increases the likelihood that the most vulnerable members of our community are hidden away by the individuals and systems that have victimized them.