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COMMITMENT DONNA HUTCHINSON. APPEAL SCHUYLKILL COUNTY MENTAL HEALTH AND MENTAL RETARDATION PROGRAM (12/31/82)

decided: December 31, 1982.

IN RE COMMITMENT OF DONNA HUTCHINSON. APPEAL OF THE SCHUYLKILL COUNTY MENTAL HEALTH AND MENTAL RETARDATION PROGRAM


No. 81-3-412, Appeal from the Order of the Superior Court dated July 11, 1980 at No. 1336, October Term, 1979, reversing the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Schuylkill County at S-653-79.

COUNSEL

Alvin E. Maurer, Jr., Pottsville, for appellant.

Robert J. Manara, Norristown, for appellee.

Howard Ulan, Asst. Atty. Gen., James G. Morgan, Jr., Harrisburg, amicus curiae for Mental Health and Mental Retardation Ass'n.

O'Brien, C.j., and Roberts, Nix, Larsen, Flaherty and McDermott, JJ. Nix, J., files a dissenting opinion. Hutchinson, J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Mcdermott

[ 500 Pa. Page 154]

OPINION

This is an appeal by appellant, Schuylkill County Mental Health and Mental Retardation Program, from a Superior Court order reversing the decision of the Schuylkill County Court of Common Pleas, by which appellee, Donna Hutchinson, was involuntarily committed to Wernersville State Hospital for a period of ninety days for psychiatric treatment under Section 304 of the Mental Health Procedures Act (hereinafter "MHPA").*fn1

The facts revealed by the record are as follows. Appellee's grandmother petitioned under Section 304 of the MHPA for an emergency examination of appellee on May 19, 1979, claiming that appellee had physically abused and threatened her. On May 21, 1979, an examining physician petitioned the court to commit appellee involuntarily for a period not to exceed ninety days pursuant to the MHPA.*fn2

[ 500 Pa. Page 155]

The following day a hearing was conducted, at which the examining psychiatrist and appellee appeared as witnesses.

At the hearing, the psychiatrist testified that the May 19, 1979, emergency commitment forms indicated that within the last thirty days appellee had struck her grandmother and that she had possessed a gun with which she had threatened to kill someone. Although the police had taken the gun from her, appellee had continued her threats, according to the psychiatrist.

The psychiatrist further testified as to appellee's prior history of psychiatric treatment and his personal examination of her during the emergency commitment. He concluded that appellee was suffering from a severe mental disability and without treatment she was a serious threat to the people of the community. In addition to relying on the commitment forms in his testimony the psychiatrist testified to the content of conversations he had had with appellee's grandmother ...


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