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J.P. v. District of Columbia

Court of Appeals of The District of Columbia

July 26, 2018

J.P., Appellant,
v.
District of Columbia, Appellee.

          Argued May 3, 2018

          Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (TRC-3-18) Hon. John McCabe, Trial Judge.

          Jaclyn S. Frankfurt, with whom Samia Fam and Mikel-Meredith Weidman were on the brief, for appellant.

          Holly M. Johnson, Assistant Attorney General, with whom Karl A. Racine, Attorney General for the District of Columbia, Loren L. AliKhan, Solicitor General, and Stacy L. Anderson, Acting Deputy Solicitor General, were on the brief, for appellee.

          Before Glickman, Easterly, and McLeese, Associate Judges.

          MCLEESE, ASSOCIATE JUDGE:

         Appellant J.P. is a sixteen-year-old minor who was prosecuted as an adult for alleged traffic offenses but has been declared incompetent to stand trial. J.P. challenges the trial court's order requiring J.P. to undergo inpatient mental-health treatment during the pendency of the District of Columbia's petition to have J.P. civilly committed. J.P. argues that D.C. Code § 7-1231.14 (a) (2018 Repl.) precludes the trial court from ordering J.P. to undergo inpatient mental-health treatment absent consent from J.P.'s parent or guardian. This is an emergency appeal, and after briefing and oral argument the court issued an emergency order on May 8, 2018, affirming the ruling of the trial court that the consent requirement reflected in § 7-1231.14 (a) does not apply to criminal defendants whose inpatient mental-health treatment has been ordered pursuant to D.C. Code § 24-531.07 (a)(2) (2012 Repl). In this opinion we explain the reasoning underlying that emergency order.

         I.

         The criminal traffic charges against J.P. rest on the following allegations. In February 2018, J.P., who did not have a driver's license, was driving a stolen truck more than thirty miles per hour over the speed limit. During a police chase, J.P. went through stop signs and drove the wrong way down a one-way street. J.P. eventually got out of the truck and attempted to flee on foot. When police officers caught J.P., he reached into his jacket pocket and turned toward a police officer with a loaded .38-caliber gun in his hand.

         J.P. was charged in this case as an adult for alleged criminal traffic offenses, pursuant to D.C. Code § 16-2301 (3)(C) (2012 Repl.). In addition, the District commenced juvenile proceedings against J.P. for alleged weapons and stolen-property offenses arising out of the February 2018 incident. J.P. also has been the subject of other Family Division proceedings. He was adjudicated a neglected child in 2013 and committed to the care of the Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA). J.P. has also been charged with delinquency offenses on several prior occasions, but those cases were dismissed because J.P. was deemed incompetent to stand trial and unlikely to attain competence. At the time of the February 2018 incident, J.P. had been missing for more than two months after he fled from a shelter house.

         Based on a stipulation between the parties, the trial court in this case found that J.P. was incompetent and unlikely to attain competence. The trial court therefore ordered that J.P. receive inpatient mental-health treatment pursuant to D.C. Code § 24-531.06 (c)(4) (2012 Repl.) (if criminal defendant has been found incompetent and unlikely to attain competence, trial court may order that defendant receive inpatient mental-health treatment for up to thirty days pending filing of petition for civil commitment). Because St. Elizabeths does not have a juvenile wing and is not licensed to provide juvenile care, the District contracted with the Psychiatric Institute of Washington (PIW) to provide for J.P.'s inpatient mental-health treatment pending civil-commitment proceedings.

         After the District filed a petition seeking civil commitment of J.P., the trial court ordered J.P.'s continued inpatient mental-health treatment at PIW pending the outcome of the civil-commitment proceeding, pursuant to § 24-531.07 (a)(2). The trial court stated that inpatient mental-health treatment was most appropriate for the safety of both the community and J.P.

         J.P. filed an emergency motion for release, arguing that requiring him to undergo inpatient mental-health treatment was unlawful under § 7-1231.14 (a), because no parent or guardian had consented. The trial court denied the motion, holding that notwithstanding § 7-1231.14 (a), § 24-531.07 (a)(2) authorizes continued inpatient mental-health treatment of incompetent criminal ...


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