Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division, of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania at No. J213 of 1976, entered on April 26, 1976, holding Appellant in Contempt of Court.
Joel I. Klein, Washington, D. C., with him Alan Meisel, Pittsburgh, for appellant.
Douglas T. Greene, Assistant County Solicitor, Pittsburgh, with him Alexander J. Jaffurs, Solicitor, Pittsburgh, for appellee.
Watkins, President Judge, and Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort, and Spaeth, JJ. Spaeth, J., files a dissenting opinion.
[ 247 Pa. Super. Page 396]
This appeal arises from an adjudication of contempt in the court below. For the reasons that follow, we have determined that appellant was held in direct criminal contempt, and therefore order transfer of this appeal to the Supreme Court.
A petition was filed in the Family Division of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, for a hearing on deprived and delinquent charges regarding "B". "B", a fifteen year old boy with a long history of social and emotional problems, was brought before the court after running away from George Junior Republic and, with three companions, stealing four automobiles and one citizen's band radio.
A court psychiatrist appointed to examine and evaluate "B" determined that several of "B's" problems are related to a semi-absent father figure and an alcoholic mother, and recommended that the court obtain hospital records regarding "B's" mother and her psychiatric treatment, presumably to aid in the diagnosis and placement of "B". "B's" mother refused to sign a consent form for release of her records, and the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (WPIC) refused to release the records without the patient's consent. Thereupon the court, TAMILIA, J., issued a subpoena to the Administrator of WPIC, ordering him to attend a hearing on April 26, 1976, and to bring with him all records pertaining to Mrs. "B".
Dr. Loren Roth appeared at the hearing on behalf of WPIC, and was represented by counsel. Through counsel, Dr. Roth asserted that Mrs. "B's" psychiatric records are privileged from judicial disclosure under the physician-patient
[ 247 Pa. Super. Page 397]
privilege statute,*fn1 and Principle 9 of the Principles of Medical Ethics. The court below nevertheless determined the privilege not to apply in this case, and ordered Dr. Roth to turn over the records. When he refused, the court held him in contempt, and fined him $100, but stayed execution on the contempt proceedings for five days pending appeal.
On April 29, 1976, an appeal was filed with this Court at No. 747 April Term, 1976, and on May 4, 1976, the court below stayed its contempt order pending the outcome of this appeal.
The Supreme Court has exclusive jurisdiction over appeals from final orders of the common pleas courts in matters of direct criminal contempt.*fn2 In a civil contempt adjudication, however, this court has jurisdiction provided appeals of other matters involved in the case would properly lie with us. Woods v. Dunlop, 461 Pa. 35, 334 A.2d 619 (1975). Since we normally hear appeals from juvenile proceedings, a finding of civil contempt arising from a juvenile proceeding would be properly appealed to this Court. Although the court below, TAMILIA, J., characterized the action as direct civil contempt, this classification is not determinative. Woods v. Dunlop, supra, 461 Pa. at p. 40, n.2, 334 A.2d 619; ...