No. 1567 Philadelphia, 1982, Appeal from Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Luzerne County, No. 1576-C of 1982.
John J. Thomas, Assistant Public Defender, Wilkes-Barre, for appellant.
Ralph J. Johnston, City Solicitor, Wilkes-Barre, for participating party.
Wieand, McEwen and Montgomery, JJ. Montgomery, J., files a dissenting opinion.
[ 315 Pa. Super. Page 533]
The issue in this appeal is one of first impression. Does section 406 of the Mental Health Procedures Act,*fn1 which authorizes a court to order involuntary treatment "following an examination in aid of sentencing," have application to juveniles who have been adjudicated delinquent? The Juvenile Court of Luzerne County held that it did and ordered that Troy McMullins, age 17, be committed "for inpatient psychiatric treatment to the forensic adolescent unit at Norristown State Hospital for a period not to exceed ninety (90) days." The juvenile appealed. We affirm.
[ 315 Pa. Super. Page 534]
The present appeal is not moot. This is because an order providing for an involuntary commitment affects an important liberty interest and because most involuntary commitment orders expire before appellate review is possible. Commonwealth v. Blaker, 293 Pa. Super. 391, 393 n. 1, 446 A.2d 976, 977 n. 1 (1981); In re S.C., 280 Pa. Super. 539, 542-543, 421 A.2d 853, 854-855 (1980); In re Commitment Page 534} of Ann S., 279 Pa. Super. 618, 621 n. 2, 421 A.2d 370, 372 n. 2 (1980).
Troy McMullins was found guilty of acts constituting the crimes of simple assault, indecent assault and making terroristic threats and was adjudicated delinquent. On February 18, 1982, he was sent to the diagnostic center for juveniles at Loysville to undergo psychiatric evaluation to aid the court in making final disposition. Based on a staff report from Loysville, the Juvenile Probation Officer filed a petition requesting that the juvenile be committed for 90 days pursuant to section 406 of the Mental Health Procedures Act. The petition was referred to a Mental Health Review Officer who, following an evidentiary hearing, found that McMullins was "severely mentally disabled and in need of inpatient psychiatric treatment." She recommended that the petition be granted; and on May 12, 1982, the court entered the order from which the instant appeal has been filed.
The Juvenile Act of July 9, 1976, P.L. 586, 42 Pa.C.S. § 6301 et seq. provides:
"If, at a dispositional hearing of a child found to be a delinquent or at any hearing, the evidence indicates that the child may be subject to commitment or detention under the provisions of the act of October 20, 1966 (3rd Sp.Sess., P.L. 96, No. 6), known as the 'Mental Health and Mental Retardation Act of 1966,' or the act of July 9, 1976 (P.L. 817, No. 143), known as the 'Mental Health Procedures Act,' the court shall proceed under the provisions of the appropriate statute."
42 Pa.C.S. § 6356. However, a juvenile delinquent is not per se mentally ill. The presence of mental illness cannot be inferred solely from the fact that the person acted in a manner displaying delinquency. Commonwealth v. Hubert, 494 Pa. 148, 152, 430 A.2d 1160, 1162 (1981).
Section 401(c) of the Mental Health Procedures Act provides:
[ 315 Pa. Super. Page 535]
"(c) As to any person who is subject to a petition or who has been committed under the Juvenile Act, the civil provisions of this act applicable to children of his age shall apply to all proceedings for his examination and treatment . . . ."
Thus far, the Act seems clear. The difficulty arises because, with respect to court ordered involuntary examination and treatment under the Act, no distinction is made between adults and children. One searches in vain through the sections of the Act for provisions pertaining to age ...