In juvenile court, T.B., a youth with autism and related behavioral health issues, was adjudicated delinquent and placed outside of his home. Juvenile Law Center, as co-counsel on T.B.’s appeal of the adjudication and placement, challenged the court's finding that T.B. was competent to stand trial and that there were sufficient grounds to adjudicate T.B. delinquent based on resisting arrest and related charges. Because T.B. presented sufficient expert evidence to demonstrate that he was not competent to stand trial, and no evidence was presented to demonstrate the youth's competency, Juvenile Law Center argued that the competency finding must be vacated, and with it, the adjudication of delinquency.
Juvenile Law Center also argued that because there were no grounds to lawfully arrest T.B. in the first place—regardless of a finding of competency—the adjudication of delinquency based on the charge of resisting arrest should be reversed. Finally, Juvenile Law Center argued that the court's decision to send T.B. to one of the most restrictive settings, a Youth Development Center (YDC), was an abuse of discretion. While the law makes clear that youth should only be removed from their communities and put into placement when they pose a threat, less-restrictive means should be tried before placement is even considered. Juvenile Law Center argued that the court abused its discretion in placing a youth who had no previous juvenile justice system contact and was not identified as a threat to the community in a YDC without first trying a less-restrictive solution.
In a non-precedential decision, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania reversed a lower court’s decision to adjudicate T.B. delinquent because the court found that there was insufficient evidence for the adjudication.