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COMMONWEALTH v. WILLIAMS (10/03/68)

decided: October 3, 1968.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
WILLIAMS, APPELLANT. COMMONWEALTH V. JONES, APPELLANT



Appeals from orders of Superior Court, Oct. T., 1967, Nos. 157 and 164, affirming orders of County Court of Philadelphia, Nos. 135483 and 136162, in re appeals of Ardry Jones and John Williams.

COUNSEL

Vincent J. Ziccardi, First Assistant Defender, with him Elizabeth Langford Green and Melvin Dildine, Assistant Defenders, and Herman I. Pollock, Defender, for appellants.

Alan J. Davis, Assistant District Attorney, with him Michael J. Rotko and Roger F. Cox, Assistant District Attorneys, Richard A. Sprague, First Assistant District Attorney, and Arlen Specter, District Attorney, for appellee.

Bell, C. J., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Roberts.

Author: Roberts

[ 432 Pa. Page 45]

Appellants John Williams and Ardry Jones are presently incarcerated in the State Correctional Institution at Dallas, having been adjudged defective delinquents with criminal tendencies by the Juvenile

[ 432 Pa. Page 46]

Court of the County of Philadelphia. The Superior Court affirmed both commitments, Williams Appeal, Jones Appeal, 210 Pa. Superior Ct. 388, 234 A.2d 37 (1967), and this Court granted allocatur.

Appellants' arguments before this Court break down into three categories: (1) an attack upon the expert medical testimony introduced before the juvenile court; (2) an attack upon the constitutionality of the Dallas Act under which Jones and Williams were committed. Act of May 25, 1937, P. L. 808, § 3, as amended, 61 P.S. § 541-3;*fn1 and (3) an attack upon the type of treatment afforded persons confined to Dallas. We shall treat these arguments seriatim.

Expert Medical Testimony

In order to evaluate properly the testimony introduced below upon which appellants were found both delinquent and mentally defective, it is first necessary to review in some detail the personal history of Williams and Jones.

John Williams was born in 1950. At the age of six he was placed with foster parents, began school, and became such a behavior problem that he was finally excused from further attendance. In 1962, at the age of twelve, Williams was arrested on charges of larceny, receiving stolen goods and incorrigibility. Shortly thereafter he was adjudged delinquent by the juvenile court and given a series of psychiatric and psychological tests, the results of which were unanimous

[ 432 Pa. Page 47]

    in diagnosing Williams as mentally defective.*fn2 Accordingly, he was ordered held at the Youth Study Center pending acceptance by Pennhurst (a Commonwealth operated hospital-school for mental defectives). While awaiting acceptance by Pennhurst, however, Williams was accepted by St. Gabriel's Hall, a private institution operated by the Catholic Children's Bureau. Less than two months after arriving at St. Gabriel's the school urgently requested his removal because he was emotionally disturbed and uncontrollable. As a result, Williams was again sent to the Youth Study Center, eventually proceeding from there to Pennhurst in April, 1963.

During the next three years Williams embarked upon a campaign of misconduct ranging from the simple teasing of low-grade patients to such crimes as larceny, assault and battery, and sodomy. A total of 56 instances of misconduct were reported by the Pennhurst authorities who, in April, 1966, petitioned the Juvenile Court for Williams' removal. Two hearings were held thereafter by the Juvenile Court. The first hearing resulted in Williams being found mentally defective, the second in his being adjudged delinquent, this time on the basis of the offenses committed while at Pennhurst.*fn3 The Juvenile Court therefore granted

[ 432 Pa. Page 48]

Pennhurst's discharge petition and simultaneously committed Williams to Dallas.

The life of Ardry Jones has been equally tragic. Born in 1949, Jones had his first contact with the Juvenile Court in 1956 as a result of behavioral problems in school. In 1962 he was arrested and charged with indecent exposure. As with Williams, the Juvenile Court suspected Jones' mental condition and ordered medical examinations. Again the diagnoses of the psychiatrist and psychologist were in accord: subject was mentally defective. Jones was therefore ordered held at the Youth Study Center pending acceptance by Pennhurst. He finally entered that institution on the same day as John Williams, April 11, 1963.

Jones' deportment record at Pennhurst unfortunately is practically a carbon copy of Williams'. A total of 40 disciplinary violations in three years, including repeated acts of assault, larceny and sodomy. Accordingly, Pennhurst petitioned the Juvenile Court for Jones' discharge. Hearings were held and Jones was also found mentally defective and ...


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