his sanity and his right to restoration to the status of a person of sound mind."
The Boddie case recognizes that Section 320 was meant to apply only to patients on conditional release or parole. The petitioner in the Boddie case was actually in custody and had brought a writ of habeas corpus. At page 188, 184 F.2d at page 242, the Court asks:
"What were the remedies which an alleged insane person might have invoked to obtain his release or to prove his sanity prior to August 9, 1939, when all of these Code provisions * * * were enacted? In Barry v. Hall, 1938, 68 App.D.C. 350, 357, 98 F.2d 222, 229, we said: '* * * If an original confinement was valid but the person confined has regained his sanity, the writ is used to seek discharge from confinement on that factual ground.' This was in accord with the general rule stated thus in 25 Am.Jur. 209: 'Where one in custody by reason of insanity is detained after he has recovered his sanity, such detention is illegal and may be ended by habeas corpus; and it is generally held that a person committed as insane has the right to have his sanity determined on habeas corpus.' * * * We conclude, therefore, that prior to the enactment of the legislation involved here, the remedy of habeas corpus was available to any person confined as insane, by means of which he could attempt to obtain his release or prove his sanity. That being true, it is a remedy expressly reserved to him by § 325."
Petitioner in the instant case is not in custody, so the writ of habeas corpus provides no redress. Due to the fact that she is a nonresident of the District of Columbia who has been removed from the hospital rolls, she cannot re-enter the hospital voluntarily. Further, as she is completely recovered she cannot be involuntarily committed. Perhaps this is well, because it would seem a mockery of justice to require a former patient to submit to commitment merely to give her the right to bring a habeas corpus action to restore her legal status as a sane person.
This case appears to be one of first impression. Of course, this is not surprising in light of the almost complete remedies afforded by the statute and the writ of habeas corpus. Even in the rare cases of patients who elope from St. Elizabeths Hospital and regain their sanity while not in custody, there is almost always jurisdiction in the hospital to return the patient and place him on conditional release and recommend the restoration of his status. If such a patient is returned to the hospital and not released, the patient is fully guarded in his rights by the writ of habeas corpus.
There can be no question that the provisions of Section 325 do, in fact, apply to Mrs. DuBois, petitioner in the instant case. She is an "alleged insane person" within the meaning of the Code, for she was so adjudged by this Court in 1958. She is, therefore, entitled to "the benefit of existing remedies * * * to prove [her] sanity." What are these "existing remedies?"
Outside of the rights conferred by the writ of habeas corpus, the right of an "alleged insane person" to request the restoration of sanity was largely, as we have seen above, within the discretion of the Court. While this discretion was previously extremely broad, it has been greatly narrowed by the provisions of the statute. No court should exercise such discretionary powers, it would seem, unless there was clearly no remedy either under the statute or in the writ of habeas corpus, which is the situation in the present case. This case is, therefore, an appropriate one for the exercise of the broad equitable powers inherent in this Court.
The Mental Health Commission has made inquiry into this case and has examined the petitioner, even though such a procedure is not required within the statute in such a case and petitioner has no statutory "right" to such an examination. The Commission in this regard has been of great assistance to the Court and is to be commended for its activities.
Having carefully examined the record in this case and the findings of the Commission and the petitioner's own psychiatrist, the Court is of the opinion that petitioner has fully regained her sanity and should be restored to the status of a sane person.
An appropriate order may be presented.
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