Executive Order 1351


By virtue of the authority vested in me I hereby establish the following Executive Order for the Canal Zone:


Section I. The Asylum for the Insane at Ancon, as heretofore, shall be under the jurisdiction of the Department of Sanitation. The object of said Asylum shall be the curative treatment of the insane.


Sec. II. The Superintendent of the Ancon Hospital shall be the administrative chief of the Asylum for the Insane, subject to existing laws and orders, and to such rules and provisions as may be issued by the Department of Sanitation in accordance with existing laws and orders. He shall be in charge of the general inspection of buildings, grounds and equipment, and shall have the supervision over the professional and administrative personnel of the Asylum and over the inmates, and shall satisfy himself that all patients receive the care and medical treatment which is best adapted to their comfort and recovery.

He shall see that a proper register of the patients is kept, showing their names, previous residence, occupation, origin and antecedents, and condition at the time of admission, and their mental and physical condition, as well as their medical treatment during the time of their stay in the Asylum shall be recorded. The death or discharge of patients shall be entered in the register.


Sec. III. No person declared to be insane shall be kept in a jail, prison, hospital for the sick or other similar institution, but shall be sent, with the proper precautions, to the Asylum for the Insane herein provided for.


Sec. IV. The Superintendent of Ancon Hospital, through the physician in charge of the Insane Asylum, may discharge any patient upon filing in his office a written statement that in his judgment such patient has recovered or that the discharge will not be detrimental or dangerous to the public welfare or injurious to the patient, provided, that before discharging any patient who has not recovered the Superintendent shall satisfy himself by adequate investigation that the relatives or friends of the patient are able and willing to receive and care for such patient.

No patient shall be discharged without suitable clothing.

The discharges referred to in this section do not apply to commitments on judicial orders in criminal cases, in which cases the discharges can be granted only by the Court which directed the commitment of the prisoner.


Sec. V. No person shall be admitted as a patient in the Asylum for the Insane except upon the order of a Circuit Judge of the Canal Zone, provided, that if a patient is in a state of violent insanity he may be admitted at once into the quarters hereinafter provided for the observation of persons alleged to be insane, without an order of court, upon the written request of the District Physician to the Superintendent of Ancon Hospital; or the patient may be admitted to the observation quarters by said Superintendent without such request, in the absence of the District Physician.

It shall be the duty of the Superintendent of Ancon Hospital to report the case in writing to the Circuit Judge, within twenty-four hours after the patient has been admitted to the observation quarters, and as soon as the Judge shall have received the report he shall proceed to examine and determine the case in like manner as if the petition had been presented to him prior to the patient's admission into observation quarters.


Sec. VI. To obtain the judicial order provided for in the preceding section it shall be necessary for the nearest relative of the person alleged to be insane to present a petition, duly subscribed and sworn to by the petitioner, to the Judge of any Circuit Court of the Canal Zone, which petition shall state the sex, age and nationality, if known, of the patient, and the facts showing his mental infirmity, and, if possible, the history of the case and the form of insanity with which he is suffering and the attending circumstances making it necessary that he be confined in the Asylum. The petition shall be accompanied by a certificate signed by one or more reputable physicians to the effect that such person is insane.

When the nearest relatives of the person alleged to be insane are absent or refuse to act the petition may be made by the District Judge of the District in which the patient resides or is to be found, at the time the application is made, and in that event it shall state that the nearest relatives of the person alleged to be insane are absent or refuse to act.


Sec. VII. The petition provided for in the preceding section shall take precedence over all other matters pending before the court and shall be heard by the judge thereof without delay, and if the facts stated therein are sufficient to satisfy him of the insanity of the person sought to be confined he shall issue orders at once directing that the person alleged to be insane betaken into custody and placed in quarters hereinafter provided, for the proper observation of the case.

The order of the Judge directing that the person alleged to be insane be placed under observation shall be sufficient authority for the Superintendent of the Asylum to admit the patient into the institution for the purposes of observation, there to remain until the observation is concluded; and the Judge shall direct in said order that if the observation shall show that the patient is not insane he shall be set at liberty at once, and the medical officer in charge of such observation shall forthwith report his action thereon to the judge who issued the order.

The observation of the alleged insane person shall be made in suitable quarters within the asylum grounds, by the chief medical officer thereof, or under his direction, and shall be for a period of not more than thirty days, and the judge who issued the order for the detention of the patient may require the medical officer in charge of the case to make reports thereon to him from time to time.


Sec. VIII. The observation provided for in this law may be carried on at the residence of the alleged insane person, when, in the opinion of the Judge, that may be done with safety to the patient and the public; and in such cases the Judge may impose such limitations and conditions as in his judgment the interest of the patient and the safety of the public demand.


Sec. IX. It shall be the duty of the physician in charge of the observation to examine the patient and observe the symptoms of his case; within thirty days after the patient is placed under observation the medical officer in charge of the case shall make his report thereon in writing, and shall state whether the patient is sane or insane. The report shall contain a statement of the facts upon which it is based, and shall be sent to the court having jurisdiction of the case, within twenty-four hours after the same has been subscribed by him.


Sec. X. It shall be the duty of the Judge having jurisdiction of the case, within twenty-four hours after the receipt of the report provided for in the preceding section to render judgment therein, either committing the patient to the Asylum for the Insane or directing that he be turned over to his relatives, able and willing to take care of him, or to order his discharge, in accordance with the findings of the medical officer in charge of the case.


Sec. XI. The relatives of the person alleged to be insane, or the Public Prosecutor, may appear and contest the report of the medical officer, and in such cases the Judge shall hear the evidence presented by the parties and render judgment thereon, either committing the patient to the asylum or directing his discharge as the law and the facts in the case may justify.


Sec. XII. From the judgment of the court rendered in accordance with the preceding section either of the parties may appeal to the Supreme Court of the Canal Zone, which court shall hear and dispose of the case with all reasonable despatch, giving it precedence over all other matters pending therein.

When an appeal is taken the trial court shall issue such orders as it may deem necessary and proper for the custody and safe-keeping of the patient during the hearing of the appeal.

Any person interested in an inmate of the Asylum, who believes he is improperly detained therein, may make application to the Circuit Judge of the First Judicial Circuit for the discharge of such patient. Upon the receipt of such application the Judge shall issue an order to the Superintendent of Ancon Hospital to make a report on the patient's condition, and upon the receipt of such report the Judge shall consider the same, and, in his discretion, may grant or deny the application. Should the Judge be in doubt as to the proper action to take he may cause the patient to be examined by two competent physicians who shall report to the Judge in writing as to whether the patient should be released or detained in the Asylum. If the physicians recommend the detention of the patient the court may deny the application; should they recommend his release the Judge may grant the petition and discharge the patient at once.

The relatives or friends of the patient or the Public Prosecutor, if dissatisfied with the ruling of the Judge may appeal therefrom to the Supreme Court of the Canal Zone, which Court shall dispose of the appeal as in ordinary cases provided for under this Order; and pending the appeal the trial court may make such orders relating to the custody of the patient as may best subserve the interest of the patient and the public.

If the insane person shall be serving a sentence for the violation of the criminal laws, the Circuit Court of the Circuit wherein the conviction shall have been had shall have jurisdiction of the petition for the discharge of the patient from the Asylum.


Sec. XIII. The order of the Judge directing that the patient be admitted to the Asylum for the Insane for care and treatment shall also provide that the marshal, or police officer acting as marshal of the court, shall convey the patient promptly under proper escort to the Asylum.


Sec. XIV. If any person confined in a prison or penitentiary under the sentence of a court becomes insane he shall be committed to the asylum for the Insane by the Judge of the Circuit Court of the Circuit wherein the patient received his sentence of conviction. In all such cases the provisions of this order, relating to the period of observation of the patient and the trial of the issue as to his insanity shall be observed, provided however, that the period of observation shall be carried out in the infirmary of the prison or penitentiary, unless the Judge, on the advice of the Department of Sanitation is of the opinion that it should take place elsewhere. Whenever a person is committed to the Insane Asylum under the provisions of this section, the order of commitment issued by the court shall include a statement of the offense of which the person was convicted, the term of his imprisonment and the date upon which said term is to expire. Should such person be discharged from the insane asylum before the date of the expiration of his term of imprisonment he shall be returned to the penal institution from which he was taken, in order that he may finish his term; and shall be set at liberty if his discharge from the Asylum takes place subsequent to the date of the expiration of his term of imprisonment.


Sec. XV. All expenses connected with cases of insanity, including the cost of observation, transportation, care, treatment and maintenance of the patients, shall be borne by their respective estates, to be paid in due order of administration of their estates in accordance with the probate laws of the Canal Zone, and if the patients are insolvent then the expense shall be borne by the relatives responsible for the care and maintenance of such patients under the law to be recovered by the Isthmian Canal Commission against such relatives in any court of competent jurisdiction; and if the relatives of the patients are also insolvent then such expenditure shall be paid out of the public moneys appropriated for such purposes.


Sec. XVI. Nothing contained in this Order shall be construed to repeal or modify the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Canal Zone relating to the inquiry into the insanity of the defendants before trial or after conviction.


Sec. XVII. Insane patients from the Republic of Panama may be admitted into the Asylum for the Insane, herein provided for, in accordance with the existing agreements between the Canal Zone authorities and the Panamanian authorities, or under such changes and modifications of said agreements as may be made from time to time.


Sec. XVIII. The Canal Commission is hereby authorized to establish rules and regulations from time to time as may be deemed necessary for the government of the Asylum for the Insane herein provided for, subject to the approval of the Secretary of War.


Sec. XIX. This order shall take effect thirty days from this date.


Signature of William Howard Taft
Wm. H. Taft.

The White House, May 10, 1911.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).