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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. DENISE ROMETT (03/11/88)

filed: March 11, 1988.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
DENISE ROMETT, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Order entered on April 6, 1987, in the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, Civil Division, at No. SP DKT. 5, P. 112.

COUNSEL

Carol A. Shelly, Assistant Public Defender, Doylestown, for appellant.

Cavanaugh, Beck and Hester, JJ.

Author: Beck

[ 372 Pa. Super. Page 43]

Appellant, involuntarily committed to a psychiatric facility since February, 1986, now challenges the latest of her successive recommitments under the Mental Health Procedure Act, 50 Pa.Stat.Ann. §§ 7101-7503 (Purdon Supp.1987). Appellant argues that her recommitment was based on insufficient evidence and that the lower court improperly considered appellant's original assaultive behavior. Since neither claim has merit, we affirm the order of the trial court authorizing an additional period of institutionalization for appellant.

Appellant, who has a history of hospitalizations for mental illness, was involuntarily committed in February, 1986, as a result of assaultive behavior towards family members. This original commitment was extended three times before the hearing at issue, which was held in March, 1987. Testimony presented at this hearing established that, just before the hearing began, appellant violently slapped a nurse

[ 372 Pa. Super. Page 44]

    across the face. The slap broke the nurse's glasses. The glasses cut her nose before flying across the room. This assault occurred after the nurse told appellant that appellant could not smoke before the hearing.

Appellant's treating psychiatrist then testified that appellant had also recently shown assaultive behavior toward him. During a discussion of appellant's possible recommitment, appellant became angry and slapped the psychiatrist's loose-leaf binder toward his face. Appellant then threatened to "do something" but had not "decided what it will be." The psychiatrist also testified that appellant suffers from schizophrenia and paranoia. According to the psychiatrist, appellant's illness is manifested in delusions, poor impulse control, and beliefs that others are "out to get her." He testified that a cessation of appellant's treatment would reasonably result in future assaultive behavior. He testified that appellant posed a danger to others rather than to herself. Following this testimony, appellant was involuntarily committed for thirty days of in-patient treatment, to be followed by one hundred-fifty days of out-patient treatment.

Appellant asserts that this testimony was insufficient in that it did not establish that appellant had, within thirty days before the hearing, inflicted or attempted to inflict serious bodily injury on another, Section 7301(b) of the Act.*fn1

[ 372 Pa. Super. Page 45]

However, appellant's reliance on § 7301(b) is misplaced. That section of the Act applies to the original emergency examination and commitment of a mentally disabled person. The hearing and order at issue concerned appellant's third additional period of treatment. Therefore, section 7305, not 7301, is controlling.

Section 7305 provides that, at the expiration of a period of court-ordered involuntary treatment, the court may order treatment for an additional period. This order must be entered upon a hearing on the findings required by § 7304(a) and (b) and on the "further finding of a need for continuing involuntary treatment as shown by conduct during the person's most recent period of court-ordered treatment." 50 Pa.Stat.Ann. § ...


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