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RHONDA DELSIGNORE (06/29/77)

decided: June 29, 1977.

IN THE INTEREST OF RHONDA DELSIGNORE, A MINOR. APPEAL OF RHONDA DELSIGNORE, A MINOR


Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lawrence County dated September 9, 1975 at No. 6 of 1975, Juvenile Division, Adjudicating Delinquency and Directing Placement at Waynesburg Youth Development Center.

COUNSEL

Dominick Motto, New Castle, for appellant.

Frank G. Verterano, New Castle, for appellee.

Watkins, President Judge, and Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort and Spaeth, JJ. Price and Van der Voort, JJ., concur in the result.

Author: Spaeth

[ 249 Pa. Super. Page 152]

On September 9, 1975, appellant was adjudicated a delinquent child under the Juvenile Act*fn1 and was ordered placed in Waynesburg Youth Development Center. On this appeal she argues that the evidence adduced at the adjudication hearing was not sufficient to support the finding of delinquency. We affirm.

1

The petition, which was filed by Lawrence County Child Welfare Services on August 25, 1975, alleged that appellant "is a delinquent child within the meaning of the Juvenile Act in that she committed specific acts of habitual disobedience of the reasonable commands of her father and is ungovernable." We agree with appellant's contention that the evidence was insufficient to support this allegation. There was no testimony that appellant had ever (much less habitually) disobeyed her father. Even if we resist the temptation to be literal, and read "father" in the petition to mean "parent, guardian, or other custodian," as the language

[ 249 Pa. Super. Page 153]

    of the Act has it, 11 P.S. § 50-102(2)(ii), the evidence would still be insufficient.*fn2

Appellant lived for a time with her sister, Mrs. Monaco, and her sister's husband. Mr. and Mrs. Monaco's testimony established that appellant "took tantrums" in response to certain rules set down by them, but they did not say that on these occasions appellant refused to obey the rules. Mr. Monaco did state that appellant refused to go with them on a trip to visit Mr. DelSignore at the Cleveland Clinic. However, one instance of disobedience cannot alone be taken to satisfy the statute's definition of a delinquent act as "a specific act or acts of habitual disobedience." 11 P.S. § 50-102(2)(ii) (emphasis added). To be sure, the Act says "a specific act." What is a "specific act . . . of habitual disobedience?" The phrase comes close to nonsense (a single act of repetition?); but reading the Act with some forbearance leads us to suppose that the Legislature intended that a "delinquent act" may be proved by evidence of a single act of disobedience, provided there is also evidence of surrounding circumstances that suggest that the disobedience is part of a pattern of behavior. (In most cases it would seem that such evidence would amount to a showing of "specific . . . acts [not act] of habitual disobedience.") Here, we find no such suggestion. There does appear to be inherent in appellant's nature a certain resistance to and rebelliousness against persons in authority and their commands; but the evidence taken as a whole demonstrates that usually -- with the single exception of the visit to Mr. DelSignore -- appellant obeyed those commands, albeit after making a fair fuss.

2

If the allegations of disobedience and ungovernability were the only basis for the ...


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