Appeal from the Order of the State Civil Service Commission in case of Michael Kakas v. Philadelphia State Hospital, Department of Public Welfare, Appeal No. 3056.
Allen W. Toadvine, with him Charles O. Marte, Jr., for petitioner.
Mary Butler, Deputy Attorney General, with her Marc G. Brecher and John O. J. Shellenberger, Deputy Attorneys General, and LeRoy S. Zimmerman, Attorney General, for respondents.
Judges Mencer, Blatt and Doyle, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer.
[ 65 Pa. Commw. Page 551]
Michael Kakas (petitioner) has appealed from an order of the State Civil Service Commission (Commission) which sustained the action of Philadelphia State Hospital (Hospital) in terminating petitioner's employment. We affirm.
On February 27, 1980, petitioner was removed from his position as Psychiatric Security Aide I, regular status, for allegedly injuring a patient at the Hospital. The patient, Ira Robinson, testified before the Commission that petitioner struck him in the mouth, causing him to lose seven teeth. Another patient, Vernon Gordon, testified that he had witnessed petitioner strike Robinson. In addition, two Hospital employees testified that they had observed slight cuts across petitioner's knuckles the day after Robinson's injury occurred. Although petitioner denied
[ 65 Pa. Commw. Page 552]
all of the charges and established that Robinson had made prior inconsistent statements concerning the cause of his injury, the Commission, in the exercise of its authority to resolve questions of credibility, found that petitioner had struck Robinson. The Commission therefore concluded that the Hospital had just cause for removing petitioner from his position.
On appeal, petitioner argues that the Commission's findings are not supported by substantial evidence because Robinson was not competent to testify and lacked credibility as a witness. The general rule is that a person with a mental illness is competent to testify if he is capable of giving a correct account of the matters which he has seen or heard in reference to the questions at issue. Commonwealth v. Ware, 459 Pa. 334, 329 A.2d 258 (1974). In the instant case, Dr. William Levy, a psychiatrist at the Hospital, testified that, in his opinion, Robinson was capable of understanding what happened to him on the day of his injury and was capable of distinguishing truth and falsity. Furthermore, upon reviewing the record, we can find no indication that Robinson lacked the mental capacity to understand the questions, communicate intelligible answers, or recollect the events in issue. We thus cannot say that the Commission abused its discretion in finding that Robinson was competent to testify at the hearing. See Commonwealth v. Ware. Once he was properly deemed competent to testify, Robinson's credibility was a matter solely for the Commission to determine.
Petitioner next argues that the Commission abused its discretion in quashing the subpoena duces tecum which requested the medical records of Robinson and Gordon. We disagree, since Section 111 of the Mental Health Procedures Act, Act of July 9, 1976, P.L. 817, 50 P.S. § 7111, establishes the confidentiality of
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records of persons receiving treatment for mental illness. This ...