Phila. Civ. R. No. 7109 Mental Health Review Officer

(a) Appointment. The President Judge may, from time to time, appoint such Mental Health Review Officers as may be needed to effectuate the purposes of the Mental Health Procedures Act of 1976, as amended.

(b) Qualification of Mental Health Review Officer. The Mental Health Review Officer shall be a member in good standing of the Bar of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and possess such other knowledge, expertise and experience as may be required by the President Judge.

(c) Venue. The Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, or the Mental Health Review Officer appointed pursuant to this rule, shall exercise jurisdiction in proceedings pursuant to the Mental Health Procedures Act of 1976, as amended, only in the following situations:

(d) Form of Applications, Petitions and Certifications. All Applications, Petitions and Certifications filed pursuant to the Mental Health Procedures Act shall be on forms approved by the Department of Public Welfare. Provided, however, that the parties shall attach a cover sheet with all Applications, Petitions and Responses in the form set forth hereunder or as modified by the Court from time to time.

(e) Application for Extended Involuntary Treatment Pursuant to Section 303 of the Act.

(f) Petition for Court-Ordered Involuntary Treatment Pursuant to Section 304 of the Act.

(g) Application for Additional Periods of Court-Ordered Involuntary Treatment Pursuant to Section 305 of the Act.

(h) Transfer of Persons in Involuntary Treatment.

(i) Review of Mental Health Review Officer Certifications or Decisions.

(j) Record of Proceedings. A record of the proceedings (which need not be in a stenographic format) held pursuant to the Mental Health Procedures Act shall be made, impounded by the Court as provided in the Act, and kept by the PROTHONOTARY for at least one year.

(k) Appointment of Counsel. The Public Defender is appointed The President Judge, or his designee, shall appoint counsel to represent all persons who may be subject to involuntary medical examination and treatment, unless it appears that any such person can afford, and desires to have, private representation. In the event a conflict prevents the Public Defender from representing any eligible person, conflict counsel shall be appointed as directed by the President Judge.

Explanatory Note. The Mental Health Procedures Act, as enacted on July 9, 1976, authorized the local courts to decide whether a judge of the Court of Common Pleas or a "Mental Health Review Officer" would conduct legal proceedings under the Act. Section 109 specifically provided that a Mental Health Review Officer could, if authorized by the Court, conduct proceedings under Section 303(c), which dealt with extended involuntary emergency treatment, and under Section 304, which dealt with court-ordered involuntary treatment. However, the Act did not specifically address the issue of whether the Mental Health Review Officer could issue orders for treatment or whether such orders were deemed to be final orders which were subject to appellate review.

In the case of In re Chambers, 282 Pa. Super. 327, 422 A.2d 1140 (1980), the Superior Court addressed the difference between "certifications" issued pursuant to Section 303 and "orders" issued pursuant to Section 304. The Superior Court found that Section 303 specifically authorized the Mental Health Review Officer to certify, without judicial approval, a person for extended involuntary emergency treatment for a period not to exceed 20 days, noting that under Section 303 the person made subject to such involuntary emergency treatment had the right to petition the Court of Common Pleas for review of the certification. However, the Superior Court found that the procedure for Section 304 proceedings was different, in that Section 304 required the entry of an "order" involuntarily committing a person, and since the Mental Health Review Officer is not a judge, the Mental Health Review Officer cannot enter a "final order" which is appealable to the Superior Court. Thus, the Superior Court concluded that a commitment "order" issued pursuant to Section 304 by a Mental Health Review Officer on August 28, 1978 was not a "final order" and accordingly, not ripe for appellate review, and remanded to the Court of Common Pleas with directions to enter a final appealable order. See also In re Bishop, 282 Pa. Super. 67, 422 A.2d 831 (1980).

The Mental Health Procedures Act was amended by Act of November 26, 1978, P.L. No. 1362, No. 324, effective in 60 days. This amendment, inter alia, expanded the scope of the Mental Health Review Officer's authority by authorizing the Mental Health Review Officer to conduct hearings concerning extended involuntary emergency treatment under Section 303(c), court-ordered involuntary treatment under Sections 304 and 305, or transfer hearings under Section 306. More importantly, a new section was added, Section 109(b), which specifically provides, as did Section 303(g), that persons made subject to treatment by Mental Health Review Officers have a right to petition the Court of Common Pleas for review of such ordered treatment. Thus, under the 1978 amendments, providing that the Court of Common Pleas authorizes Mental Health Review Officers to conduct proceedings under Sections 303(c), 304, 305 and 306, they may require involuntary treatment, further provided that the persons subject to such treatment may file a petition for review with the Court of Common Pleas which will enter a final appealable order. The instant Rule constitutes authorization to Mental Health Review Officers to conduct proceedings under the Mental Health Procedures Act, as amended, and sets forth the procedure to be followed so as to clarify the rights of the persons affected.



Adopted by the Board of Judges on May 21, 1997 and effective on July 1, 1997. Amended by President Judge General Court Regulation No. 97-02 issued on August 8, 1997, which was adopted by the Board of Judges on September 25, 1997, effective immediately.


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