opinion of the superintendent that the person is entitled to his unconditional release, and such certificate is filed with the Clerk of the Court and a copy served on the United States Attorney or Corporation Counsel, as the case may be; and if, on the basis of such certificate, the Court orders the unconditional release of such person, either after or without a hearing.
The Court may not authorize, therefore, a release of such person unless the requisite certificate is filed by the superintendent of Saint Elizabeths Hospital. The obvious purpose of the lastmentioned requirement is to safeguard the public against the release of insane criminals who might possibly repeat their depredations. In such a case the Court may not try the issue of sanity or insanity de novo on habeas corpus.
The Court is not unmindful of the fact that subsection (g) of Section 301 provides that nothing therein contained shall preclude a person confined under the authority of that section from establishing his eligibility for release under provisions of that section by a writ of habeas corpus. As a matter of fact, that section perhaps may be deemed surplusage, because the use of the writ of habeas corpus may not be limited by statute, and a person who claims to be deprived of his liberty illegally may always resort to the writ of habeas corpus. The question arises, however, what may the Court review in a habeas corpus proceeding? It may not try de novo the issue whether the petitioner ever has been insane, or whether he has recovered his sanity. Such a person may not be released without the certificate of the superintendent, in the words of the statute. The only issue, therefore, that might be raised and that the Court might review is whether the superintendent unreasonably, capriciously and arbitrarily declined to issue such a certificate. Naturally a matter of this kind is always subject to judicial review, but in order to establish eligibility for release by habeas corpus, it would be necessary for the petitioner to show not only that he has recovered his sanity, but also that the superintendent arbitrarily and capriciously withholds the certificate. No evidence is presented tending to show that the superintendent is acting arbitrarily or capriciously, and on the face of his return to the rule to show cause and to the writ, there would appear to be a reasonable basis for his position.
The writ will be discharged, the petition is dismissed, and the petitioner remanded.
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