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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. ARNOLD T. HENDERSON (11/05/81)

decided: November 5, 1981.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
ARNOLD T. HENDERSON, APPELLANT



No. 80-3-699, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County, Criminal Division, Nos. 1494(2) C of 1975 and 1494(2A) C of 1975, following the granting of a Petition for Writ of Certiorari by the Supreme Court of the United States at No. 79-1312, which vacated the judgment of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia District, No. 22, Special Transfer Docket, granting appellant a new trial, and remanded the record for further consideration.

COUNSEL

John R. Merrick, Public Defender, Charles M. J. Nester, Asst. Public Defender, for appellant.

James R. Freeman, Dist. Atty., Lee Ruslander, Asst. Dist. Atty., for appellee.

Kenneth S. Gallant, Asst. Dist. Atty., for amicus curiae.

O'Brien, C. J., and Roberts, Nix, Larsen, Flaherty, Kauffman and Wilkinson, JJ. Larsen, J., files a dissenting opinion in which Flaherty and Kauffman, JJ., join. Kauffman, J., files a dissenting opinion in which Larsen and Flaherty, JJ., join.

Author: Roberts

[ 496 Pa. Page 351]

OPINION OF THE COURT

On June 5, 1979, our Superior Court entered an order setting aside the conviction of appellant Arnold Henderson, a juvenile, and remanding for a new trial because of the prosecution's use at trial of a statement obtained from appellant in violation of this Commonwealth's "interested adult" rule. 266 Pa. Super. 519, 405 A.2d 940. This Court denied the Commonwealth's petition for allowance of appeal. However, on April 21, 1980, over the dissent of Justices Brennan and Stevens, the Supreme Court of the United States granted the Commonwealth's petition for a writ of certiorari, vacated the Superior Court's determination, and remanded the matter to the Superior Court "for further consideration in light of Fare v. Michael C., 442 U.S. 707 [99 S.Ct. 2560, 61 L.Ed.2d 197] (1979)." 446 U.S. 905, 100 S.Ct. 1829, 64 L.Ed.2d 256. The Superior Court has transferred the matter to this Court. Hence this opinion.

We conclude that, because Fare v. Michael C. addresses only the rights of the accused under the federal Constitution, it has no effect upon the Superior Court's application of our interested-adult rule, which is founded upon state law. Thus, the order of the Superior Court granting appellant a new trial is reinstated.

I

Our interested-adult rule is premised on this Court's belief that "the administering of Miranda warnings to a juvenile, without providing an opportunity to that juvenile to consult with a mature, informed individual concerned primarily with the interest of the juvenile, [is] inadequate to offset the disadvantage occasioned by his youth." Commonwealth v. Smith, 472 Pa. 492, 498, 372 A.2d 797, 800 (1977). Thus police seeking to subject a juvenile suspect to custodial interrogation are required first to provide the juvenile with

[ 496 Pa. Page 352]

    the opportunity to consult with an adult interested in the juvenile's welfare. This rule

"appreciates that the inexperience of the minor affects not only his or her ability to understand the full implication and consequences of the predicament but also renders the judgment inadequate to assess the spectrum of considerations encompassed in the waiver decision."

Commonwealth v. Smith, supra.

Although named after Commonwealth v. McCutchen, 463 Pa. 90, 343 A.2d 669, cert. denied, 424 U.S. 934, 96 S.Ct. 1147, 47 L.Ed.2d 341 (1975), the interested-adult rule was applied in earlier cases. Commonwealth v. Starkes, 461 Pa. 178, 335 A.2d 698 (1975); Commonwealth v. Roane, 459 Pa. 389, 329 A.2d 286 (1974). On numerous occasions this Court has reaffirmed the validity of the rule by granting relief for its violation.*fn1 The Superior Court has similarly granted relief,*fn2 as have the courts of common pleas throughout the Commonwealth.

A number of other jurisdictions also recognize the need to provide special protections to juveniles subjected to custodial

[ 496 Pa. Page 353]

    interrogation.*fn3 Our rule is also supported by respected scholarship, which recognizes that "[j]uveniles should not be permitted to waive constitutional rights on their own." Institute of Judicial Administration -- American Bar Association Juvenile Justice Standards, Police Handling of Juvenile Problems ยง 3.2 (1980). See also, e. g., Council of Judges of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, Model Rules for Juvenile Courts, Rule 25 (1969).

II

The Commonwealth argues that the Supreme Court's mandate vacating the determination of the Superior Court poses an opportunity to consider the wisdom of our interested-adult rule afresh, and to adopt the test applied by the Supreme Court in Fare v. Michael C. Fare set aside a determination of the Supreme Court of California which had held, as a matter of federal constitutional law, that a statement of a juvenile should have been suppressed on the ground that the juvenile's request to see his probation officer constituted an invocation of his Miranda rights. In setting aside the determination, the Supreme Court enforced no federal rights of the ...


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