A blog of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section

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Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Court

NEWS FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 10, 2012

HARRISBURG—The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has adopted changes designed to speed the appellate review of cases where child offnders are placed outside their homes in court delinquency matters.

The changs made to the State’s Appellate Court Procedural Rules make significant differences in how quickly out-of-home placement cases are reviewed.  Such cases are ones in which juveniles are typically are sent to a detention center or residential facility.

“Although the number of these types of cases may be relatively small, the rules that the Court adopted make our juvenile justic systerm stronger,” Chief Justice of Pennsylvania Ronald D. Castille said,  “The rules should also help appellate courts identify specific instances of sentencing abuse by individual judgs.  These new rules should boost the confidence Pennsylvanians have in the courts that adjudicate juveniles.”

Prompting the changes was a comprehensive report prepared by the Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice in response to problems identified in Luzerne County juvenile court.  The report identified a procedure to improve the appellate review system because juveniles often complete their detainment in less time that in typically takes to process an appeal from an adjudication of guilt.

The commission recommended that the Supreme Court’s Appellate Court Procedural Rules Committee create a special process to review a juvenile court judge’s decision

—short of a formal appellate review—after an adjudication of delinquency that removes a child from his or her home.  The Supreme Court amendment of existing appellate rules and the creation of a new rule provide the mechanism for the expedited review process.

“The rules are designed to provide meaningful review of a judge’s decision to remove a juvenile from his or her home,” said Commonwealth Court Judge Renee Cohn Jubelirer, Appellate Court Rules Committee chair.  “With this new procedure, we hope th bright light of appellate review will quickly corrcct legal and procedural errors, promote uniformity and consistency, and reassure parents that out-of-home placement decisions will be subject to timely review by the Superior Court.”

Over the past two years, the Supreme Court, its various committes and the AOPC have implemented a number of important reforms recommended in the Interbranch Commission’s lengthly report.

(Here are the links to the order: http://www.pacourts.us/OpPosting/Supreme/out/221apct.pdf 

And the amended rule: http://www.pacourts.us/OpPosting/Supreme/out/221apct-attach.pdf)

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Media contact: Art Heinz, 717-231-3317 www.PACourts.us   

The Free Student Research Center is closed until January.  Beginning in January, will be open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 9AM to 3PM. The Free Student Research Center is available for use by attorneys who are current members of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section and who are court-appointed to the case for which they seek research (either state or CJA!). The Free Student Research Center is located in the Jack Myers Memorial Lounge on the Third Floor of the CJC.

You may make a research request in person or via the Criminal Justice Section website by clicking here.

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