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Commonwealth v. Smerconish

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

March 24, 2015

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, Appellee
v.
ADAM SMERCONISH, Appellant

Appeal from the Order entered April 30, 2014. In the Court of Common Pleas of Mifflin County. Criminal Division at No: 44-CV-1468-13.

BEFORE: FORD ELLIOTT, P.J.E., SHOGAN, and STABILE, JJ.

OPINION

Page 1261

STABILE, J.

Appellant, Adam Smerconish, appeals from the April 30, 2014 order entered in the Court of Common Pleas of Mifflin County denying his request to expunge mental health records relating to a 2004 involuntary commitment pursuant to section 302 of the Mental Health Procedures Act, 50 P.S. § 7302.[1] Following review, we affirm.

The trial court explained:

In the instant case, Appellant petitioned for restoration of firearm rights pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S.A. [§ ] 6105(f)(1) and review by court pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S.A. [§ ] 6111.1(g)(2). The court granted Appellant's petition for restoration of firearm rights pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S.A. [§ ] 6105(f)(1)

Page 1262

as the court determined that the applicant may possess a firearm without risk to the applicant or any other person. However, the court did not grant expungement of Appellant's involuntar[y] commitment pursuant to section 302 of the Mental Health Procedures Act as . . . 18 Pa.C.S.A. [§ ] 6105(f)(1) is not a proper vehicle for expunging such records. Rather, the court reviewed Appellant's involuntar[y] commitment pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S.A. [§ ] 6111.1(g)(2) to determine whether Appellant was entitled to expungement. 18 Pa.C.S.A. [§ ] 6111.1(g)(2) provides:
(2) A person who is involuntarily committed pursuant to section 302 of the Mental Health Procedures Act may petition the court to review the sufficiency of the evidence upon which the commitment was based. If the court determines that the evidence upon which the involuntary commitment was based was insufficient, the court shall order that the record of the commitment submitted to the Pennsylvania State Police be expunged. A petition filed under this subsection shall toll the 60-day period set forth under Section 6105(a)(2).
18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6111.1 (West)
The court denied Appellant's petition for review pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S.A. [§ ] 6111.1(g)(2) as the court determined that there was sufficient evidence [for] the involuntary commitment based upon the involuntary commitment paperwork, all [of] which documents were admitted without objection. Appellant was admitted to the Lewistown Hospital on a 302 commitment after making threats to commit suicide. Appellant emailed his sister through the internet about his feelings of not wanting to live as a failure. Appellant was a student at Penn State University and had failing grades. Appellant had gained sixty (60) pounds. Appellant admitted to sending e-mails to his sister exploring painless ways that he could die. Appellant also admitted that after that time he went on to the internet and read about suicide and decided that he was frightened of such acts. Appellant was diagnosed with Major Depression, recurrent with suicidal ideation and Eating disorder, NOS with binge behaviors on Axis 1 of the DSM. Patient was diagnosed with personality disorder with narcissistic traits on Axis II of the DSM. Significantly, Appellant had a Global Assessment of Functioning of 30.
Bruce N. Eimer, PhD., in his report, asserts that Appellant was subject to a " rendition" alleging that Appellant's involuntary commitment was the result of [hearsay], and " he said, she said." Dr. Eimer also makes a due process argument by scrutinizing the treatment administered and the protocol followed after Appellant was involuntarily committed and the fact that Appellant was discharged within 72 hours, the maximum time allotted under a 302 commitment. However, the court does not find Dr. Eimer's argument persuasive. With regard to the alleged hearsay and " he said, she said," the 302 petition states that Appellant instant messaged his sister threatening twelve (12) times to kill himself. Appellant admitted to these threats. As such, the court finds that there was sufficient evidence for the involuntary commitment. Further, the treatment administered and the protocols followed after Appellant was involuntarily committed and the fact that Appellant was discharged within 72 hours is irrelevant to whether or not there was sufficient evidence to involuntarily commit Appellant.

Page 1263

Trial Court Opinion pursuant to Pa.R.A.P. 1925(a) (T.C.O.), 7/3/14, at 2-3 (emphasis and italics in original) (references to hearing exhibits omitted).[2]

Appellant presents three issues for this Court's consideration:

I. Did the learned trial judge err in failing to expunge [Appellant's] ...

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