Before DANAHER, BASTIAN and BURGER, Circuit Judges.
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT. 1960.CDC.25
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE BASTIAN
This is an appeal from a judgment of the District Court dismissing a petition for habeas corpus, discharging the writ and remanding the petitioner (appellant) to the custody of the respondent, Superintendent of St. Elizabeths Hospital (appellee).
The petition recites that petitioner was, on May 5, 1959, found to be a sexual psychopath within the meaning of § 22-3501 et seq. D.C.Code (1951); that he was committed to St. Elizabeths Hospital, where he was confined at Howard Hall against his will and in violation of the Sexual Psychopath Act, *fn1 such hall being maintained for the confinement of the violent, criminal and hopelessly insane. Petitioner claims that because of his unlawful detention in Howard Hall, he is being subjected to constant threats to his life and to serious bodily harm by the criminally insane; that he is in constant fear for his life and of serious bodily harm to the extent that he is unable to sleep and is afraid to go to sleep at night; that he is being denied medication because he does not perform manual duties assigned to him, when in fact he is unable to perform such duties; and that he is presently confined in a dormitory with fifteen criminally insane persons. He avers that no criminal charges are pending against him and that he is not insane, violent or dangerous and should not be kept in Howard Hall but in some other part of the hospital. He does not contest being held at St. Elizabeths Hospital.
The court duly authorized the filing of the petition and directed the writ to issue returnable on August 14, 1959. The answer of the respondent was duly filed, in effect denying the essential elements of the complaint. The answer stated, among other things, that the maximum security section was maintained for those patients who, in the opinion of the respondent and other physicians of the medical staff of St. Elizabeths Hospital, require treatment in a maximum security unit for security reasons. Respondent further stated that none of the patients in that section are considered hopelessly insane; that petitioner is suffering from sociopathic personality disturbance, sexual deviation; that he is dangerous to others and is properly assigned to the maximum security unit; and that each patient committed to St. Elizabeths Hospital is carefully studied and evaluated by the respondent and other members of the medical staff of the hospital and is assigned to the section and ward of the hospital in which it is believed by the respondent and medical staff that the patient may receive the most efficacious care and treatment, one of the conditions being adequate security.
The case duly came on for hearing on the return day. Petitioner testified, as did the respondent and Dr. Robert E. Moran, Jr., a Junior Psychiatric Resident of St. Elizabeths Hospital, and Dr. David J. Owens, employed by and attached to St. Elizabeths Hospital as a physician specializing in psychiatry.
The District Court made the following findings, among others, all of which we believe are amply supported by the testimony:
"1. On May 5, 1959, after a hearing in open Court, James E. Clatterbuck was found to be a sexual psychopath within the meaning of Section 3503(1), Title 22, D.C.Code (1951 Edition) and was ordered committed to Saint Elizabeths Hospital until such time as the Super-intendent of Saint Elizabeths Hospital shall find that Clatterbuck has sufficiently recovered so as not to be dangerous to other persons.
" *fn2. On August 11, 1959, James E. Clatterbuck, through his attorney, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, alleging he is illegally detained in Howard Hall at Saint Elizabeths Hospital and that he is in fear of his life and of serious bodily harm due to the alleged illegal contact with the other patients in Howard Hall.
"4. The testimony of respondent, Dr. Winfred Overholser, and of Dr. David G. Owens, an expert in psychiatry on the staff of Saint Elizabeths Hospital, indicated that Howard Hall is not a place for the confinement of the violent, criminal, hopeless insane but is the maximum security part of Saint Elizabeths Hospital where all types of patients, criminal and non-criminal, are sent, for security reasons, to receive treatment for their mental condition.
"5. The petitioner has failed to bear his burden of proving that his life is in danger or that he is in danger of serious bodily harm from other patients in Howard Hall.
"6. Petitioner does not claim that he has recovered from his sexual deviation and is being illegally detained but merely contends that the detention at Howard Hall is illegal and that he should be ...