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SANDERS APPEAL (11/26/73)

decided: November 26, 1973.

SANDERS APPEAL


Appeal from decree of Court of Common Pleas, Orphans' Court Division, of Greene County, No. 14 of 1971, in re Sanders Children.

COUNSEL

Ewing B. Pollock, with him James B. F. Rinehart, and Pollock, Pollock & Thomas, for appellants.

R. Wallace Maxwell, with him Maxwell & Davis, for appellee.

Jones, C. J., Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Chief Justice Jones. Concurring and Dissenting Opinion by Mr. Justice Pomeroy. Mr. Justice Eagen joins in this concurring and dissenting opinion.

Author: Jones

[ 454 Pa. Page 350]

This is an appeal from a decree of the Court of Common Pleas, Orphans' Court Division, of Greene County,

[ 454 Pa. Page 351]

    declaring the involuntary termination of appellants' parental rights as to six of their thirteen children.*fn1 This action is the latest event in a series involving appellants, Roland and Gladys Sanders, and appellee, Child Welfare Service of Greene County. Appellants' family initially came to appellee's attention in the fall of 1965. After a number of unsuccessful attempts to ameliorate conditions in the Sanders home, appellee petitioned the Juvenile Court of Greene County for custody of the children. As of December 1969, six children had been placed in foster care pursuant to court orders and a petition by the appellee for the similar placement of four more children was pending. On December 23, 1969, the court issued an order declaring that indications of improvement in the attitude of the parents and the conditions in the home warranted keeping the four children with their parents but directing appellee to continue

[ 454 Pa. Page 352]

    its supervision of the family. Subsequently, the court recanted its prior position and by October 1970 six additional children had been placed in foster homes pursuant to court order. Thus, all twelve children then living had been removed from appellants' custody and temporarily placed elsewhere.

On May 20, 1971, appellee commenced the present proceeding by petitioning the Orphans' Court Division for involuntary termination of parental rights as to the six youngest children then living. On August 23, 1971, following hearings on June 21 and June 25, 1971, the petition was granted, subject to the filing of exceptions, which appellants duly filed. On September 25, 1971, the court received additional testimony at appellants' request.*fn2 On July 11, 1972, the decree of August 23, 1971, was made final. This appeal followed.*fn3

The lower court's determination was based on Section 311(2) of the Adoption Act,*fn4 which provides:

"The rights of a parent in regard to a child may be terminated after a petition filed pursuant to Section 312, and a hearing held pursuant ...


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