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State v. Allen

Decided: June 24, 1976.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
ISAAC ALLEN AND CLYDE COFIELD, DEFENDANTS, AND ANTHONY BRADSHAW, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



For affirmance as modified -- Chief Justice Hughes, Justices Mountain, Sullivan, Pashman, Clifford and Schreiber and Judge Conford. For reversal -- None. The opinion of the Court was delivered by Schreiber, J.

Schreiber

At issue in this case is the propriety of an order permitting the County Prosecutor to examine a juvenile's medical reports, which are part of the records resulting from a juvenile proceeding. The purpose for the Prosecutor's request is to determine whether to move for leave to obtain a psychiatric examination of the juvenile, who is a proposed defense witness in a criminal action. We find that the order was properly granted.

Anthony Bradshaw was indicted by the Somerset County Grand Jury for murder and armed robbery. He filed a notice of alibi and listed a juvenile, G.L., as an alibi witness. R. 3:11-1. The State's investigation disclosed that G.L. had been incarcerated in the New Jersey State Home for Girls and that she was currently on parole; that while

at the Home she had undergone psychological and psychiatric examinations, the records being in the custody of the Home and in the County Probation and Parole Departments; and that confidential sources had disclosed that on occasion she suffers from psychological delusions.

The State moved before the Superior Court for orders to review the medical and psychiatric records and to require G.L. to submit to a psychiatric examination. After oral argument, the Court reserved decision until it had examined the records in camera to determine whether there was any basis for the State's application to compel G.L. to submit to a medical examination. The Court, after examining material and finding that it was relevant and hearing further oral arguments, held that the Prosecutor was entitled to review the records pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:4-65 "for the sole purpose of determining -- the Prosecutor determining whether he wants to move to have a psychiatric examination. . . ."

G.L.'s motion for a stay of the order and leave to appeal, denied by the Appellate Division, was granted by this Court. 68 N.J. 285 (1975).

The general policy of confidentiality and limited disclosure of a juvenile's records was initially expressed in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Law adopted in 1929. L. 1929, c. 157. Section 16 of that Act stated in part:

Section 27 provided in part:

The court shall maintain complete records of all petitions and hearings in cases brought before it. Such records shall be withheld from indiscriminate public inspection but shall be open to inspection by the parent or other authorized representative of the person concerned and, in the discretion of the court, by other persons having a legitimate interest.

In the Statutory Revision of 1951 the substance of section 16 was retained but that of section 27 deleted. In 1973 as part of the revision of the juvenile law, N.J.S.A. 2A:4-42 et seq., confidentiality provisions, N.J.S.A. 2A:4-64 and 65, were enacted. N.J.S.A. 2A:4-64 provides:

Effect of Disposition.

No disposition under this act shall operate to impose any of the civil disabilities ordinarily imposed by virtue of a criminal conviction, nor shall a juvenile be deemed a criminal by reason of such disposition.

The disposition of a case under this act shall not be admissible against the juvenile in any criminal or penal case or proceeding in any other court except for consideration in sentencing.

N.J.S.A. 2A:4-65 reads:

Disclosure of juvenile records; penalties ...


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