Commonwealth ex rel. Ruczynski v. Powers

421 Pa. 2, 219 A.2d 460 (1966)

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Commonwealth ex rel. Ruczynski v. Powers

Pennsylvania Supreme Court
421 Pa. 2, 219 A.2d 460 (1966)

Facts

On May 20, 1960, Robert Gunther was born to Renee Gunther (defendant), who had been an employee in a house of ill repute. When Robert was two and a half years old, Renee consented to Robert’s adoption and gave Robert to Carl and Alice Powers (plaintiffs). Robert was emaciated, dirty, and wearing rags, had sores on his skin, could hardly walk, only knew one word, and easily startled. Under the care of Carl and Alice, Robert’s skin healed, and he gained weight, started walking properly, and began to call Alice “good mama.” After five months, Carl and Alice conceded to Renee’s request to return Robert. Four months later, Renee returned Robert to Carl and Alice, and four months after that, Renee requested Robert’s return. Instead of returning Robert to Renee, Carl and Alice petitioned the court for adoption. Testimony established that Renee had neglected Robert, that Robert loved Carl and Alice and felt safe in their home, that Carl and Alice provided excellent care for Robert, and that Robert had bonded with Carl and Alice. The court granted the adoption, but the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reversed and directed the trial court to determine custody. Renee filed a writ of habeas corpus. The trial court found that Robert’s best interests were in remaining with Carl and Alice and granted permanent custody to them. Renee appealed, arguing that her immoral past of lewd behavior and neglect of Robert did not prevent her from being a good mother to Robert.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Musmanno, J.)

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