in extreme cases, if at all, be called upon to interfere. * * * It was never intended by congress that the courts of the United States should, by writs of habeas corpus, obstruct the ordinary administration of the criminal laws, or laws relating to the confinement of insane persons, through its own tribunals."
No resort has been had by the petitioner in the case at bar to the state courts. His basis for invoking the jurisdiction of the federal court, so far as appears, is that the provisions of the Mental Health Act of 1923 violate the Federal Constitution in that they authorize the deprivation of the liberty of a person without the opportunity for hearing required by due process of law. That such an attack on the validity of the Act cannot be sustained, however, in view of the safeguards against the abuse of the power of commitment and of the guarantee to a committed person of the right to bring habeas corpus proceedings at any time to test the propriety of his confinement, was decided in Hammon v. Hill, D.C., 228 F. 999, in which the constitutionality of the act in Pennsylvania which was the predecessor to the Mental Health Act of 1923 was challenged on this ground. Authorities from other jurisdictions to the same effect are collected and reviewed in the opinion of Judge Thomson of the Western District of Pennsylvania in that case.
But even assuming the attack on the constitutionality of the Mental Health Act to be valid, this affords no basis for invoking federal jurisdiction to issue a writ of habeas corpus where state remedies are available. It is established that the obligation to guard and enforce every right secured by the Constitution of the United States rests upon the state courts equally with the federal courts and that, in the absence of exceptional circumstances, orderly procedure requires recourse to the judicial remedies afforded by the state before habeas corpus proceedings for the release of a person held under a state commitment are brought in a federal court. Mooney v. Holohan, 294 U.S. 108, 55 S. Ct. 340, 79 L. Ed. 791, 98 A.L.R. 406; Hall v. People of State of California, 9 Cir., 79 F.2d 132; Davis v. Dowd, 7 Cir., 119 F.2d 338.
A still further reason why a federal court should not assume jurisdiction in habeas corpus proceedings where the commitment of an allegedly insane or mentally ill person pursuant to state law is involved was pointed out in United States ex rel. Grove v. Jackson, D.C., 16 F.Supp. 126.In that case the petitioner had been committed to a mental hospital under the provisions of Section 308 of the Mental Health Act of 1923, 50 P.S. § 48, and sought to procure his release by a writ of habeas corpus brought in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. In denying the application for the writ, Judge Watson, in an exhaustive opinion analyzing numerous authorities, stated at pages 129, 130 of 16 F.Supp.:
"Where the commitment of an insane person by a state court is involved, there are further reasons why a federal court in habeas corpus proceedings should not assume jurisdiction except possibly in extreme cases. It is fundamental that the state is parens patriae of the insane. Hammon v. Hill, D.C.W.D.Pa.1915, 228 F. 999, 1001; Shapley v. Cohoon, D.C.Mass.1918, 258 F. 752, 755.
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"The Mental Health Act of 1923 (50 P.S. Pa. § 1 et seq.) provides ample safeguards for a person committed thereunder. As the state has provided adequate legislation for its function as parens patriae in relation to the insane within its borders, and has provided protection for the rights of the individual involved, the federal courts should not obstruct the administration of such state laws, relating to the confinement of insane persons, through its own tribunals.
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"This court is not equipped to deal suitably with a person in such condition as the relator herein is alleged to be and therefore should not merely discharge him from the custody in which he is now found. In King v. McLean Asylum of Massachusetts General Hospital [1 Cir.], 1894, 64 F. 331, 351, 26 L.R.A. 784, the court said: 'Whatever a state tribunal, having jurisdiction as parens patriae, might accomplish, especially in Massachusetts, where the statute authority given to judges of the higher courts touching the committing of insane persons to asylums would cover the case of a prior informal committal, and enable them to apply an immediate and practical remedy by a new one, the circuit courts have not the machinery to deal suitably with a person in the condition in which the petitioner is alleged in this return to be, and would therefore be prohibited, both by public policy and humanity, from merely discharging him from the custody in which he might be found. In such circumstances a court would be called on to exercise more than ordinary judicial powers.'
"If the relator feels aggrieved, the statutes of Pennsylvania afford him ample opportunity to raise the question and to seek his remedies and, until that has been done, the federal court, as already stated, should not interfere. 'For the welfare of the community, as well as that of the insane, and to guard against unnecessary conflicts between the federal courts and those of the state, both of which are equally bound to guard and protect rights secured by the Constitution, it is necessary that one who alleges that he has been deprived of his liberty in violation of his constitutional rights should have exhausted all his remedies in the state court before application should be made to a federal court.' Shapley v. Cohoon, supra.
"Counsel for the relator has relied upon the case of Walters v. McKinnis, D.C., 221 F. 746, decided by Judge Thomson of the Western District of Pennsylvania, on January 6, 1915; but this case loses all of its force in view of the fact that Judge Thomson on a later date, namely, October 29, 1915, after more mature deliberation, decided the case of Hammon v. Hill, to which I have already referred, and which is in accord with the decisions of other federal courts.
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"This court has no jurisdiction of the question of the sanity or insanity of the relator, is not the parens patriae, and is not the proper forum for the determination of that question. Adequate remedies are provided in the state legislation, of which remedies this relator has not seen fit to avail himself in the state courts. Under such circumstances as those existing in this case, the federal court should not interfere and should not obstruct the orderly process and administration by the courts of the state."
It may be noted that in the present case petitioner seeks not only an order releasing Ryan from the custody of the respondent but also, under the authority of Rule 17(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, 28 U.S.C.A. following section 723c, such further order as this court deems proper for the temporary care of the person and property of Ryan. There seems to be little doubt that Rule 17(c), relied upon by the petitioner, deals only with the protection of incompetents in their status as parties, and gives the district courts no general powers over their persons or property. Such broad powers as pointed out by Judge Watson are peculiarly within the function and jurisdiction of the courts of this state as parens patriae of the mentally ill.
The petition for a writ of habeas corpus is denied and the writ is dismissed.
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