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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. PETER MAGGIO (05/14/86)

filed: May 14, 1986.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
PETER MAGGIO, APPELLANT. (TWO CASES)



Appeal from the Order of June 19, 1985, in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Criminal Division, at No. 677 Misc. July, 1980. Appeal from the Order Entered on October 24, 1983, in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Criminal Division, at No. 677 Misc. July, 1980.

COUNSEL

Jon S. Pushinsky, Pittsburgh, for appellant.

Kenneth J. Benson, Assistant District Attorney, Pittsburgh, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Brosky, Rowley and Hester, JJ.

Author: Hester

[ 353 Pa. Super. Page 159]

Appellant, facing criminal charges suspended on account of incompetence to stand trial, appeals his mental health commitment pursuant to section 408 of the Mental Health

[ 353 Pa. Super. Page 160]

    and Mental Retardation Act of 1966 (hereinafter, "MH/MR Act"), 50 P.S. § 4408, claiming the commitment is unconstitutional under the holding of Jackson v. Indiana, 406 U.S. 715, 92 S.Ct. 1845, 32 L.Ed.2d 435 (1972). He also argues that the commitment of a mentally retarded person such as him to the forensic unit of Mayview State Hospital, designed for the treatment of the mentally ill, violates not only state law but the United States Constitution as well.

Appellant, now fifty-eight years old, was charged in July, 1980, with arson, aggravated assault and homicide. He was adjudged incompetent to stand trial. Following a series of mental health commitments which were not challenged, on October 24, 1983, appellant was committed to the forensic unit of Mayview State Hospital pursuant to section 408 of the MH/MR Act, 50 P.S. § 4408. The commitment was based on the fact that appellant was not diagnosed as being mentally ill but was suffering from mental retardation. The Mayview facility was selected because there were "no secure, or forensic, mental retardation facilities in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania." Commonwealth v. Maggio, 132 P.L.J. 147, 148 (1983). In light of the crimes charged to appellant, the court deemed him a threat to the health and safety of the citizens of the Commonwealth, necessitating commitment to a secure facility such as the one selected. Id. at 149.

The order of October 24, 1983, was appealed to this court (hereinafter, "the 1983 appeal"), raising the same two issues we face in this appeal. Appellant claimed that his commitment violated Jackson v. Indiana, supra, due to the fact that he had been diagnosed as unlikely ever to achieve competence to stand trial. Jackson held that one

     who is committed solely on account of his incapacity to proceed to trial cannot be held more than the reasonable period of time necessary to determine whether there is a substantial probability that he will attain that capacity in the foreseeable future. If it is determined that this is not the case, then the State must either institute the customary civil commitment proceeding that would be required

[ 353 Pa. Super. Page 161]

    to commit indefinitely any other citizen, or release the defendant.

406 U.S. at 738, 92 S.Ct. at 1858, 32 L.Ed.2d at 451. Appellant argues that his commitment under section 408, a criminal commitment under the MH/MR Act, was a denial of due process and equal protection under the holding of Jackson.

This court remanded for a full hearing on the Jackson question, for it had not been addressed by the trial court and the record was inadequate to decide the issue. We did not, in deciding the 1983 appeal, rule on appellant's second argument, for if he were to prevail on the Jackson issue, the propriety of his place of commitment ...


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