The Aug. 23 editorial "Laughing at the Law" implied that the D.C. Superior Court was not taking the new law and delinquency cases seriously. It said, "[I]f parents are being held responsible for the actions of their children, it is the best kept secret in the city."

If The Post had contacted the court, it would have learned that this year the court has issued participation orders in 91 percent of cases in which juveniles have been charged with crimes. These orders not only require parents to attend hearings, they also may require them to participate in parenting or substance-abuse classes and to monitor a child's curfew and school attendance. When judges find that it is not in the child's best interest to issue a participation order, the law does not require it.

Judges have issued bench warrants when parents do not appear in court without a legitimate reason as set forth in D.C. law. Judges have held parents in civil contempt and fined parents for not complying with the participation orders. Judges have required parents to pay restitution to victims of stolen-car crimes.

Since Aug. 17, 2004, I have sent a letter to parents of children involved in juvenile court proceedings explaining their obligation under the law to participate in the rehabilitative process and the consequences for not participating. Parental involvement in the rehabilitation of children is a "secret" only because The Post didn't ask about it.


Presiding Judge

Family Court

Superior Court of the District of Columbia