The opinion of the court was delivered by: Urbina, District Judge.
Granting the Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment; Denying
the Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment
The above captioned case arises out of two cases now
consolidated into one. The
first case, Civil Action No. 95-601, was originally filed by the
United States of America against the District of Columbia and
William Bennett, a representative patient at Saint Elizabeths
Hospital in Washington, D.C. The second case, Civil Action No.
96-2551, was originally filed by a group of patients at Saint
Elizabeths Hospital, including Mr. Bennett, against Janet Reno in
her official capacity as Attorney General of the United States
and Zanni Guido in his official capacity as Commissioner on
Mental Health Services for the District of Columbia. In the
consolidated case, Civil Action No. 95-601, the plaintiff is the
United States of America and the defendants are the District of
Columbia and the group of patients at Saint Elizabeths Hospital.
The consolidated case is currently before the court on all
parties' motions for summary judgment. For the reasons stated
herein, the court will grant the plaintiff's motion for summary
judgment and deny the defendants' motions for summary judgment.
This action commenced on March 29, 1995, when the United States
of America (hereinafter "plaintiff") filed a complaint against
the District of Columbia and Mr. Bennett seeking release of the
psychiatric records of a group of patients who had been committed
to Saint Elizabeths Hospital (hereinafter "St. Elizabeths")
pursuant to D.C.Code Ann. § 24-301(d)(1) after having been found
not guilty of federal crimes by reason of insanity. In the
original complaint, the plaintiff alleged that it was entitled to
access the patients' psychiatric records pursuant to
24 U.S.C. § 225f, which provided for the transfer to the District of Columbia
of "all right, title, and interest of the United States in all
real property at Saint Elizabeths Hospital. . . ."
24 U.S.C. § 225f(a)(1). During the pendency of this litigation, however,
Congress amended 18 U.S.C. § 4243 to include a provision that
specifically grants the plaintiff access to the records sought.
See Title III of the Economic Espionage Act of 1996, Pub.L. No.
104-294, § 301, 110 Stat. 3488, 3494-95 (Oct. 11, 1996)
(hereinafter "Title III"). Consequently, the plaintiff now relies
primarily on Title III to support its allegation of entitlement
to the patients' psychiatric records.
Both the District of Columbia and the patients whose records
are being sought (hereinafter collectively referred to as
"defendants") contend that the plaintiff is not legally entitled
to the records. Consequently, on November 8, 1996, the patients
filed a complaint seeking a declaration that the provision of
Title III that grants the plaintiff access to their records
(hereinafter "access provision") is unconstitutional and seeking
an injunction barring St. Elizabeths from releasing their
records. The patients also seek a declaration that a separate
provision of Title III, which provides for the transfer of the
patients themselves into the custody of the Attorney General,
(hereinafter "transfer provision") is unconstitutional. In
addition, they seek an injunction barring the plaintiff from
attempting to obtain custody of the patients.
On November 20, 1996, the court granted the patients' motion
for a temporary restraining order, thus barring the plaintiff
from either accessing the records or attempting to obtain custody
of the patients. Subsequently, the court consolidated the
plaintiff's original complaint and the complaint later filed by
the patients into the action currently before the court.
II. LEGAL STANDARD FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
All parties to this action have filed motions for summary
judgment. Summary judgment is appropriate upon a finding that
"there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the
moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The substantive law upon which a claim rests
determines which facts are "material." See Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202
(1986). If a
fact bears upon an essential element of the legal claim, then it
is material; otherwise, it is not. See id.; Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265
(1986). Only disputes over facts that can establish an element of
the claim, and thus might affect its ultimate resolution, can
create a "genuine issue" sufficient to preclude summary judgment.
See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505; Celotex, 477
U.S. at 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548.
To prevail on a motion for summary judgment, the moving party
bears the burden of establishing that there are no genuine issues
of material fact and that the nonmoving party has failed to offer
sufficient evidence to support a valid legal claim. See
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256, 106 S.Ct. 2505; Celotex, 477 U.S.
at 325, 106 S.Ct. 2548. In ruling on the motion, the court must
accept the evidence of the nonmoving party as true and must draw
all justifiable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. See
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505. It is not sufficient,
however, for the nonmoving party to establish "the mere existence
of a scintilla of evidence in support of the [nonmoving party's]
position . . .; there must be evidence on which the jury could
reasonably find for the [nonmoving party]." Id. at 252, 106
S.Ct. 2505. If the evidence in favor of the nonmoving party "is
merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary
judgment may be granted." Id. at 249-50, 106 S.Ct. 2505
(internal citations omitted).
In this case, the court concludes that there are no genuine
issues of material fact and that the plaintiff is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Accordingly, the plaintiff's motion
for summary judgment will be granted and the defendants' motions
for summary judgment will be denied.
The Insanity Defense Reform Act, 18 U.S.C. § 4243, which
Congress enacted in 1984, provides for the mandatory
hospitalization of defendants found not guilty of federal crimes
by reason of insanity. Even prior to the enactment of
18 U.S.C. § 4243, however, defendants charged with federal crimes in the
District of Columbia who were found not guilty by reason of
insanity were automatically committed to a hospital for the
mentally ill. These defendants were committed to St. Elizabeths
pursuant to D.C.Code Ann. § 24-301(d)(1), which provides as
If any person tried upon an indictment or information
for an offense raises the defense of insanity and is
acquitted solely on the ground that he was insane at
the time of its commission, he shall be committed to
a hospital for the mentally ill until such time as he
is eligible for release. . . .
It was pursuant to D.C.Code Ann. § 24-301(d)(1) that all of the
patients who are parties to this action were committed to St.
From 1855 until 1987, St. Elizabeths was owned and operated by
the United States government. See 24 U.S.C. § 225, 225f. On
October 1, 1987, however, Congress transferred ownership and
control of St. Elizabeths to the District of Columbia. See
24 U.S.C. § 225f. Nevertheless, the United States remained
financially responsible for all patients committed to St.
Elizabeths as a result of having been found not guilty of federal
crimes by reason of insanity. See 24 U.S.C. § 225g(b)(1)(C)
(directing the United States to pay "the full costs for the
provision of mental ...