Can Superior Court Judges Rule on Juvenile Court Matters ?

Only a judge of the juvenile court is authorized to review the Youth Authority's disciplinary and medical files which purportedly contain juvenile court records. Judges of the juvenile court are specifically designated to conduct the business of the juvenile court. Superior court judges not so designated may not hear and rule on juvenile court matters. Welfare and Institutions Code section 246 provides that "In counties having more than one judge of the superior court, the presiding judge of such court . . . shall annually, in the month of January, designate one or more judges of the superior court to hear all cases under this chapter during the ensuing year . . . . In all counties where more than one judge is designated as a judge of the juvenile court, the presiding judge of the superior court shall also designate one such judge as presiding judge of the juvenile court." The Los Angeles Superior Court, with its hundreds of judges, of course has a presiding judge of the juvenile court. California Rules of Court, rule 1423(b) provides: "Only those persons specified in [Welfare and Institutions Code] sections 827 and 828 may inspect juvenile court records without authorization from the court. . . . Authorization for any other person to inspect, obtain, or copy juvenile court records must be ordered by the juvenile court presiding judge or a judicial officer designated by the juvenile court presiding judge." We, therefore, assume that the presiding judge of the juvenile court will designate a judge of the respondent court empowered with the authority of the juvenile court to examine and order disclosure of the juvenile court records. To the extent that the Youth Authority records do not include juvenile court records, the designated judge is also authorized to order disclosure of those records in accordance with the provisions of Government Code section 19574.