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In re P.S.

April 24, 2003

IN RE P.S.; DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, APPELLANT.


Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (J1908-01) (Hon. Odessa F. Vincent, Trial Judge)

Before Steadman, Schwelb and Washington, Associate Judges.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Washington, Associate Judge

Argued December 16, 2002

This case tests the limits of a trial court's authority to reserve to itself the power to direct the placement and treatment of juveniles once those juveniles have been committed to the District of Columbia Department of Human Services (DHS) or another such agency. Appellant, the District of Columbia, contends that the trial court lacks statutory jurisdiction to direct administrative agencies where to place and how to treat juveniles, who have been adjudicated delinquent and placed in the custody of that agency. We agree with the District of Columbia that in juvenile delinquency proceedings, as distinct from abuse and neglect cases, the court no longer has the statutory authority to direct the placement or future treatment of juveniles who have been committed to a public agency, such as DHS. Therefore, we vacate the trial court's order to the extent that it directs the placement and treatment of P.S. and remand the case to the trial court for any further actions consistent with this opinion. *fn1

On October 10, 2001, P.S. was charged with robbery, *fn2 unauthorized use of a vehicle *fn3 and receiving stolen property. *fn4 P.S. was adjudicated delinquent after pleading guilty to unauthorized use of a vehicle and receiving stolen property on January 29, 2002. On July 26, 2002, the trial court presided over a disposition hearing for P.S. *fn5 The court placed P.S. in the custody of DHS pursuant to D.C. Code § 16-2320 (c)(2) (2001) and then instructed DHS to put P.S. in the Pines Residential Treatment Center (hereinafter the "Pines"), a treatment facility that could keep him until age twenty-one. Additionally, in a supplemental order, the court made various directives to DHS regarding P.S.'s treatment.

The District's main contention is that the trial court exceeded its statutory authority when it issued a supplemental order requiring DHS to: 1) place P.S. in a particular treatment facility; 2) obtain permission from the court before transferring P.S. to another facility; and 3) provide specific treatment modalities for P.S. According to the District, the provisions in the supplemental order that involve the exercise of post-dispositional judicial authority include the following paragraphs:

3. The Respondent shall remain in secure detention at the Oak Hill Youth Center until such time as space is available for the Respondent at the Pines Residential Treatment Center, Crawford Campus (hereinafter "the Pines"). DHS shall make all necessary arrangements for the Respondent's placement in the Pines facility, and provide for, inter alia, placement therein as soon as a space becomes available;

4. In no event shall Respondent's placement in the Pines, or any other therapeutic residential treatment facility occur more than 30 days after the date of this Order;

***

6. This Court reserves jurisdiction over this matter to, inter alia, review and approve of any therapeutic residential treatment facility, transitional and or independent living program, or other placement for the Respondent. The Respondent may not be placed in any therapeutic residential treatment facility, transitional and or independent living program, or other location without the prior approval of this Court;

7. Any therapeutic residential treatment facility, and subsequent transitional and or independent living program shall, inter alia, provide the Respondent with the services recommended in the: Psychiatric Evaluation, dated May 29, 2002, by Floyd B. Galler, M.D., L.F.A.P.A., Staff Psychiatrist, and the Psychological Evaluation, dated May 23, 2002, by Celeste Showers Sulc, Psychology Intern, any other existing or subsequent physical, mental health, and/or educational evaluations including but not limited to: individual therapy; include in-patient substance abuse treatment; antidepressant medication (as indicated after assessment at the Pines);

a special education program or GED program; and vocational training;

8. This Court reserves jurisdiction over this matter to, inter alia, determine when and whether the Respondent should be released from the Pines, or any other therapeutic treatment facility, to live with a family member, placed in foster care, placed in a Group Home, transitional and/or independent living program, or any other placement is appropriate;

9. DHS shall provide the Respondent with any and all services recommended by the Pines, or any other therapeutic residential treatment facility, and any physical, mental health, or other evaluation to ensure ...


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