Juvenile court judges would have greater leeway in closing hearings and sealing records of serious youth offenders, a bill passed by the Utah House on Monday says.

Rep. Patrice Arent, D-South Cottonwood, a private attorney, said now a new law forcing open most trials of 16-and-17-year-olds charged with serious crimes, such as murder, has had unintended consequences.In some cases, the family of the accused have brought in "friends" to the hearing in an attempt to frighten or silence witnesses.

It also makes no sense that some records are open, others closed, she said.

Her bill, HB11, gives juvenile court judges more leeway in closing a trial of a serious youth offender and allows the judge to seal some records, also. "The juvenile court judges are very much in favor of this," she said.