General

Duties of Juvenile Officer.  

The juvenile officer, under the direction of the juvenile court, shall:(1) make investigations and furnish the court with such information and assistance as the judge may require, (2) keep a written record of such investigations and submit reports thereon to the judge, (3) take charge of children before and after the hearing as may be directed by the court, (4) perform such other duties and exercise such powers as the judge of the juvenile court may direct.

The juvenile officer is vested with all of power and authority of sheriffs to make arrests and perform other duties incident to his office.

The juvenile officers of the several counties of the state shall cooperate with each other in carrying out the purposes and provisions of the juvenile code.  Section 211.401, RSMo.

Cooperation of Law Enforcement.  

It is the duty of the prosecuting attorney to give the juvenile officer such aid and cooperation as may not be inconsistent with the duties of the office of prosecuting attorney.  It is the duty of law enforcement officers and other authorized persons taking a child into custody to give information of that fact immediately to the juvenile court or the juvenile officer and to furnish the juvenile court or juvenile officer all facts in their possession pertaining to the child, the child’s parents, guardian or other persons interested in the child, together with the reasons for taking the child into custody.  It is the duty of all other public officials and departments to render all assistance and cooperation within their jurisdictional power which may further the objects of the juvenile code.  Section 211.411, RSMo.

Violation of Juvenile Court Order.  

Any person 17 years of age or over who willfully violates, neglects or refuses to obey or perform any lawful order of a juvenile court, or who violates any provision of the juvenile code is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.  Section 211.431, RSMo.

Fingerprinting and Photographing.  

Law enforcement officers shall take fingerprints and photographs of a juvenile taken into custody for an offence that would be considered a felony is committed by an adult without the approval of the juvenile court.  Fingerprints and photographs of a juvenile taken into custody as a victim of abuse/neglect or as a status offender or for an offense that would be considered a misdemeanor if committed by an adult may only be fingerprinted or photographed with the consent of the juvenile court.  Records of the juvenile who has been fingerprinted and photographed shall be closed records pursuant to Section 610.100, RSMo if a petition has not been filed within 30 days of the date the child was taken into custody.  If a petition has not been filed within 1 year of the date the child was taken into custody, any records relating to the child may be expunged under the provisions of Section 610.122 to 610.126, RSMo.

Confidentiality of Records.  

Records of juvenile court proceedings and social records prepared are normally not open to inspection except by order of the court to persons having a legitimate interest therein unless a petition or motion to modify is sustained which charges the child with an offense which, if committed by an adult, would be a Class A felony, capital murder, first degree murder, second degree murder or except as provided in Section 211.321.2, RSMo.

In status offense cases, the records of the court shall be kept confidential and shall be open to inspection only by order of the juvenile court.  In delinquency cases, the records of the juvenile court shall be kept confidential, but may be open to inspection without court order such that the juvenile officer may provide information or discuss matters related to the juvenile or the violation with the victim, witnesses, school officials, law enforcement officials, prosecuting attorneys, or any person or agency having or proposed to have legal or actual care, custody and control of the child or any person or agency providing or proposed to provide treatment of the child.  Those persons to whom this information is released shall not further release the information to the general public but shall keep the information confidential and may exchange information with only those persons listed herein.

The juvenile officer may make public information concerning the offense, the substance of the petition, the status of the proceedings in juvenile court and any other information which does not specifically identify the juvenile or the juvenile’s family.

Upon adjudication for an offense which would be a felony if committed by an adult, the records of the dispositional hearing and proceedings related thereto shall be open to the public to the same extent that records of criminal proceedings are open to the public.  Social summaries, investigations or updates in the nature of pre-sentence investigations and status reports submitted to the court by a treating agency or individual after a dispositional order is entered shall be kept confidential.

In abuse/neglect or termination of parental rights cases filed by the juvenile officer or the Division on or after July 1, 2005, the pleadings and orders shall be open to the general public.  The confidential files and those specifically ordered closed shall not be open to the public.  Confidential files refers to medical records, psychiatric or psychological records, Division reports, social histories, home studies, police reports and law enforcement records.  Section 211.319.3.  For any such records made available to the public, the identity of the child, and any information that could identify or lead to disclosure of the reporter of a hotline shall not be disclosed, and must be redacted.  Section 211.319.4.

Police Officer’s Records.  

All records of juveniles made and retained by law enforcement agencies shall be kept separate from the records of adults and shall not be open to inspection or be disclosed except by order of the juvenile court.  This does not apply, however, to juveniles who have been transferred to a court of general jurisdiction to be prosecuted as an adult or to juveniles who have been convicted under Sections 578.421 to 578.437, RSMo.  This section also does not apply to inspection or disclosure for the purpose of a civil forfeiture action pursuant to Section 195.140, RSMo.

Sealing or Destruction of Records.  

The court may, on its own motion or upon application by the juvenile or his representative, or the juvenile officer, enter an order to destroy all social histories, records and information other than the official court file and the court may also enter an order to seal the official court file as well as officers’ records at any time after the child has reached his 17th birthday if the court finds that it is in the best interest of the child that such action be taken, unless the jurisdiction of the court is continued beyond the child’s 17th birthday, in which event such action may be taken by the court any time after the case is closed.

Physical and Mental Examination of Juvenile.  

At any time after a petition has been filed the court may order the juvenile be examined by a physician, psychiatrist or psychologist appointed by the court to aid the court in determining: (1) any allegation in the petition relating to the juvenile’s mental or physical condition, (2) the juvenile’s competence to participate in the proceedings, (3) whether the juvenile is a proper subject to be dealt with by the juvenile court, or (4) any other matter relating to the adjudication or disposition of the case, including the proper disposition or treatment of the juvenile.

The services of a public or private hospital, institution or psychiatric or health clinic may be used for the purpose of examination under this rule.  Rule 123.01.

Physical and Mental Examination of Custodian.  Prior to adjudication, the court may order examination by a physician, surgeons, psychiatrist or psychologist of a person whose ability to care for a juvenile who is before the court is in question.  After adjudication, the court may order examination of a person whose ability to care for a juvenile who is before the court is in question.  In order to enter an order prior to an adjudication, there must be a hearing held on a motion for the physical and mental examination of the custodian.  After adjudication, there is no necessity for a hearing on the motion for the physical or mental examination.  Rule 123.02.

Search Warrants.  

Application of a search warrant in connection with a juvenile proceeding may be made to the court.  Rule 124.01.

Change of Judicial Officer.  A change of judicial officer shall be ordered when the judicial officer is interested, related to a party, or otherwise disqualified under Rule 51.07; or upon application of a party.

If the change of judicial officer is based upon application, the application need not allege or prove any cause for such change and need not be verified.  Such an application must be filed within five days after the trial date has been set, unless the judicial officer has not been designated within that time, in which event the application must be filed within five days after the trial judicial officer has been designated.  If the designation of the trial judicial officer occurs less than five days before trial, the application must be filed prior to commencement of any proceedings on the record.  Rule 126.01.  See also Section 211.031.2(5).

A supplemental petition and a motion to modify a prior order of disposition shall not be deemed to be an independent civil action unless the judicial officer designated to hear the motion is not the same judicial officer that heard the previous action.  Rule 126.01c.  In In Interest of S.M.H., ED84210 (Mo.App.E.D. 11-9-2004), the Eastern District held that a TPR petition is not a supplemental petition and the filing of a TPR, even in the same case number, entitles the parties to a fresh change of judge application.  The case has been transferred to the Supreme Court due to the general importance of the question.

If one application has been made by a party other than the juvenile officer, no further application shall be permitted except an application of a party whose interests conflict with the interest of the party making the prior application.  Rule 126.01d.

A judge has an affirmative duty not to unnecessarily recuse.  A judge should recuse if a reasonable person would find an appearance of impropriety.  Even the receipt of an extra judicial communication does not require recusal where no information is conveyed that is not also conveyed by independent evidence at trial.  Where a judge receives, but does not read, a letter from a State Senator, and instructs his secretary to send copies to parties and to seal the original in the court file, the trial judge’s decision not to recuse is not an abuse of discretion.  In Interest of B.R.M., Op.No. SD25124 (Mo.App.S.D. 5-13-2003).  But see In Interest of K.L.W.,WD62794 (Mo.App.W.D. 4-9- 2004)(judge has duty to recuse where impartiality might reasonably be questioned - judge should recuse if judge made notes on ex parte letters sent to judge by non-party, who was a former foster parent, because actions created appearance of impropriety.)

The trial for purposes of Rule 126 means the trial on the merits.  Thus, the fact that a previous protective custody hearing was held does not cause the time period for filing an application for change of judge to begin running.  State ex rel. Stubblefield v. Bader, 66 S.W.3d 741 (Mo.banc 2002).  The Supreme Court’s decision in Stubblefield overruled a previous case to the extent that the previous case held that rescheduling of a trial date does not affect the time within which an application for change of judge must be filed.  Thus, the rescheduling of the trial date starts the time for filing the application for change of judge running anew.  Id.