did not contemplate that the court should approve the certificate of the Superintendent of the hospital pro forma, for the Act, which has been quoted, empowers the court in its discretion to hold a hearing at which evidence as to the mental condition of the person involved may be submitted. It is further provided that the court shall weigh the evidence and if the court finds that such person has recovered his sanity and will not in the reasonable future be dangerous to himself or others, that the court shall order such person unconditionally released from further confinement in the hospital. Obviously, therefore, the statute places the final responsibility on the court.
Accordingly, in the case at bar, the court directed that a hearing be held before it. At that hearing testimony was given by a psychiatrist, who was the Assistant Chief of the division of the hospital in which the petitioner had been confined and treated; by the petitioner's father; and by the petitioner himself. The Court was indeed impressed with the fact that as a result of modern psychiatric treatment received at the hands of skilled psychiatrists in Saint Elizabeths Hospital, the petitioner made great progress toward reaching mental balance, a proper attitude toward society, and adjustment to the community. He is now steadily employed in a restaurant owned and operated by his sister. His own testimony discloses that he has acquired an insight into his own past shortcomings and has apparently changed his attitude toward his fellow man. There is no doubt that the progress made by this patient is a tribute to modern psychiatric methods, as well as a credit to the accomplishments of the splendid institution in which he was confined, and to the individual psychiatrists who treated him. The hospital psychiatrist testified unequivocally that the petitioner had recovered his sanity and that he would not be dangerous to himself or others within the reasonable future.
A serious question arises, however, on an examination of the formal return filed on behalf of the Superintendent of the hospital to the writ of habeas corpus. To be sure, the return concludes with a statement that the respondent believes that the petitioner has reasonably demonstrated an ability to adjust in the community, that he has recovered from his psychosis, that he will not be dangerous to himself or others within the reasonable future, and is entitled to his unconditional release. Yet this concluding statement is preceded by an allegation, also contained in the return, that the respondent, as well as other members of the medical staff of Saint Elizabeths Hospital, are of the opinion that the petitioner 'is suffering from schizophrenic reaction, chronic undifferentiated type, but that since the petitioner's readmission to Saint Elizabeths Hospital on December 2, 1956, the psychosis has been in remission'. This statement seems to contradict the averment that the petitioner recovered from the psychosis, and it likewise contradicts the oral testimony. The term 'remission' at best means a temporary recovery. perhaps a temporary, partial recovery. For example, Webster's New International Dictionary, 1949 Edition, defines remission as 'a temporary and incomplete subsidence of the force or violence of a disease or of pain'. The American Illustrated Medical Dictionary, 1941 Edition, defines the term as 'a diminution or abatement of the symptoms of a disease; also the period during which such diminution occurs'. Thus, the formal return filed in this proceeding on behalf of the Superintendent of the hospital, is much more guarded than either the certificate or the oral testimony.
In the light of these circumstances and in view of the caution that should be exercised by the court in cases of this type, the court reaches the conclusion that the matter is not yet ripe for the granting of an unconditional release.
Writ discharged and petition denied.