In re N.E.M.

New Decision

N.E.M., a Pennsylvania youth, was ordered into out-of-home placement by a juvenile court without a statement of the reasons for ordering placement or any findings regarding N.E.M.’s needs. N.E.M sought review in the Pennsylvania Superior Court under Pa. R.A.P. 1612, a rule intended to provide an expedited procedure for children to appeal out-of-home placement orders in delinquency cases, but the Superior Court denied the petition for review without opinion.

Juvenile Law Center, joined by 15 advocacy organizations and experts, filed an amicus brief in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in support of N.E.M. Our brief argued that the Superior Court and juvenile court orders contravene the letter and purpose of Pennsylvania’s Juvenile Act and related court rules. We further argued that meaningful and timely appellate review is necessary to curtail the grave harms caused by out-of-home placements, including disproportionate harm to youth of color and youth with disabilities. 

In a win for Pennsylvania youth, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that Rule 1612 expedited review is a right afforded to all youth adjudicated delinquent and placed outside of their homes, and thus the Superior Court erred in treating N.E.M.’s appeal as discretionary and denying his petition for review. The Court further noted how N.E.M. had been “utterly failed” by the procedural safeguards he relied upon in both the juvenile court and the Superior Court. The Court described how these safeguards grew out of Pennsylvania’s “Kids for Cash” scandal and emphasized that while “memory of the injustices that occurred as a result of lax out-of-home placement protocols fades,” appellate review must protect against reoccurrence of those injustices.



Kate Burdick, Marsha Levick, Christopher Lin, Jasmin Randolph-Taylor


Tiffany Faith, Marissa Lariviere