Page images
PDF
EPUB

This law clearly contemplates that when any money is appropriated by the State for the use of this institution for extraordinary or unusual purposes, the State Board of Charities shall inquire into the merits of the same as a part of its supervisory powers over the institutions which, by the State Chari. ties Law, are placed under its control.

By section 10 of this law these institutions are subject to the visitation, inspection and supervision of the State Board of Charities; and I assume that the board's report in that behalf is the basis upon which the Legislature makes such appropriations as may be asked for by the managers of any particular institution. But this does not apply to the usual expenses necessarily incurred for the conduct of such institution. The law forbids any unusual or extraordinary appropriation of the State funds for the use of the institutions under the supervision of the State Board of Charities, without the approval of that board.

Respectfully,
T. E. HANCOCK,

Attorney-General.

§ 103. Powers and duties of managers.

Four members of the board of managers shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business. The board shall:

1. Elect from their number a president and secretary, and may adopt a seal for the use of the colony.

2. Have the government, direction and control of the patients, officers and employees of the colony and of all the property and concerns thereof.

The managers or superintendent of the colony have no legal authority to detain patients therein against their will.

STATE OF NEW YORK.
ATTORNEY-GENERAL'S OFFICE,

ALBANY, February 24, 1898. WILLIAM P. SPRATLING, M.D., Superintendent Craig Colony, Sonyea, N. Y.:

DEAR SIR. — I am in receipt of your letter of the 22d instant, in which you ask for my opinion as to the power of the managers of the Craig Colony to forcibly restrain patients from leaving the Colony.

In reply I have the honor to say that the question you ask has been passed upon by the courts in reference to similiar institutions. In the matter of Walter Baker, 29 How. Pr., 485, on habeas corpus, it was held by the Supreme Court that the power to receive and retain inebriates entering the New York State Inebriate Asylum either voluntarily or by the order of the committee of any habitual drunkard, conferred upon said asylum by chapter 184, Laws of 1857, did not authorize the superintendent thereof to keep a voluntary patient by force; although such patient on entering the institution signed a contract under said act to remain there for one year, which time had not ex: pired.

Again in the habeas corpus proceedings in re Adrian Janes, 30 How. Pr. 446, wbere the court reviewed the entire field of legislation respecting the super. vision, care, custody and confinement of habitual drunkards, it was held that " inebriates cannot be treated as lunatics, unless they are lunatics as well as inebriates, and whoever confines an inebriate must do so by due process of law” and “ that the act” (chapter 266, Laws of 1865, authorizing the commitment by a Supreme Court justice or county judge to the New York State Inebriate Asylum, upon the production and filing of affidavits by two respectable, practicing physicians and two respectable citizens freeholders of the county wherein an inebriate may reside, to the effect that such inebriate is lost to self control, unable from such inebriation to attend to business or is thereby dangerous to remain at large), “ violates the provisions of our national and State Constitutions which declare that no person shall be deprived of liberty without due process of law, for the reason that it authorizes the commitment for the term of one year of persons as inebriates and lost to self control to the New York State Inebriate Asylum, upon ex parte affidavits, without any provision for an examination on their own motion, as to whether they were or are such inebriates before some court or officer and a jury where they could be heard in opposition to the charge that they were or are such inebriates."

In the case of epileptics, there is no provision contained in the statute, article VII of chapter 546, Laws of 1896, for the forcible detention of patients in your colony. The object of the establishment of the Craig Colony appears to be as stated in section 100 of the State Charities Law (chapter 546, Laws of 1896,) to secure the humane, curative, scientific and economical care and treatment of epileptics, exclusive of insane epileptics." These epileptics, unless insane, are not in any respect dangerous persons to be at large, and their reception and support in your institution is charity, so far as State patients are concerned, relieving the poor authorities of the counties, cities and towns of their support. I am of the opinion that the managers have no authority to forcibly prevent patients, not insane, from leaving the colony.

You also ask whether under subdivision 5 of section 107 of the State Chari. ties Law, providing that the superintendent shall “maintain salutary discipline among all employees, patients and inhabitants of the colony, and enforce strict compliance with his instructions, and uniform obedience to all the rules and regulations of the colony,” you can punish a patient for infraction of the regulations of disciplinary measures, — by such forms of punishment as isolation in a lignt room, with or without a restriction in diet; keeping patients away from the general dining room and from amusement and other public exercises.

In reply, I would say that the power to maintain discipline and to enforce compliance with the rules of the institution necessarily implied the power to punish for violation of the rules, and although the forms of punishment you suggest are not, I should say, in any way inhuman or excessive, I would advise against restraint of liberty, for the reason that this might lead to com. plaints from the patients or from their friends.

Very respectfully,

T. E. HANCOCK,

Attorney-General.

Patients cannot be prevented from leaving the institution if they so desire, provided their condition is such that they can leave with safety.

STATE OF NEW YORK,
ATTORNEY-GENERAL'S OFFICE,

ALBANY, May 31, 1899 The Honorable, The Secretary of the State Board of Charities, Albany, N. Y.:

Sir.— Replying to your verbal request for an opinion as to whether or not the Superintendent of the Craig Colony has the right to restrain a patient at the Colony against his wish, I beg to state an opinion upon this subject was rendered February 24, 1898, with which you are, of course, familiar. This opinion was written in the light of the provisions of subdivision 5, section 107, chapter 546, Laws of 1896, which reads as follows:

“ Maintain salutary discipline among all employes, patients and inhabitants of the colony, and enforce strict compliance with his instructions and uniform obedience to all the rules and regulations of the colony.”

The conclusion then reached was that there was no authority conferred by the act aforesaid to detain patients in the Craig Colony against their wish.

The section above quoted was amended by chapter 359, Laws of 1898, to read as follows:

"Maintain salutary discipline among all employes, patients and inhabitants of the colony, have the custody and control of every patient admitted to the colony until properly discharged, and subject to the regulations of the managers, restrain and discipline any patient in such manner as he may judge is for the welfare of the

atient and the proper conduct of the colony, and enforce strict compliance with the instructions and uniform obedience to all the rules and regulations of the colony.”.

I have carefully considered the above amendment, and cannot find therein any authority for the detention of a patient against his wish. It is true that this act provides that the Superintendent “shall have the custody and control of every patient admitted to the colony until properly discharged," also that he may

" restrain and discipline any patient in such manner as he may judge is for the welfare of the patient and the proper conduct of the colony."

This, in my opinion, cannot be taken to mean that a patient may be prevented from leaving the colony if he so desires, but has reference simply to the management of the patients while in the colony, and is intended to refer to the custody, control and restraint obviously necessary for the orderly conduct and management of such an institution.

I am therefore of the opinion that the amendment above referred to does not affect the conclusions reached in the previous opinion (Attorney-General's report for 1898, p. 156), and that a patient who is not insane or in such a condition that it would be dangerous to himself or others to allow him to leave the colony cannot be detained there against his wish.

Respectfully yours,

JOIN C. DAVIES,

Attorney-General.

3. Subject to the revision and approval of the fiscal superviser purchase supplies for the use of the colony and such raw materials as may be necessary for the trades and industries pursued therein, and provide for the disposal of the manufactured products and the product of the land.

4. Employ the assistants necessary for the government of the colony, and to educate and properly use the labor of the patients.

5. Establish such by-laws, rules and regulations as they may deem necessary regulating the appointment, powers and duties of officers, teachers, attendants and assistants, fixing the condition of admission, treatment, education, support, custody, discipline and discharge of patients, conducting in a proper manner the business of the colony, and regulating the internal government, discipline and management of the colony.

Authority of Superintendent to retain patients at Colony. — Responsibility for escaped innates.

STATE OF NEW YORK,
ATTORNEY-GENERAL'S OFFICE,

ALBANY, May 24, 1909. Dr. WILLIAM T. SHANAHAN, Acting Medical Superintendent, Craig Colony

for Epileptics, Son yea, N. Y.: DEAB SIR.— I have your letter of the 27th ultimo asking for an opinion as to the authority, if any, of the Superintendent of Craig Colony to keep patients at the Colony if the relatives or guardians or friends desire to remove them from the institution; also asking to be informed as to your responsibility for patients who escape from the institution.

Section 103 of the Consolidated State Charities Law empowers the managers of Craig Colony.

" To establish such by-laws, rules and regulations as they may deem necessary,

fixing the conditions of admission, treatment, education, support, custody, discipline and discharge of patients, conducting in a proper manner the business of the Colony and regulating the internal government, discipline and management of the Colony." Under this section, it is contemplated that the managers may prescribe the conditions upon which patients are to be admitted and discharged.

Such conditions might prescribe that they should remain a reasonable time to secure the best results, and during that time they could be retained even contrary to the wishes of their relatives or friends provided they had agreed to the con. ditions at the time the patient was admitted. This could not be an un. reasonable length of time, however, and there would be no authority to keep patients indefinitely contrary to the wishes of their relatives or friends.

Regarding your responsibility for the escape of inmates from the institution, that also is a question which should be covered by the general rules and regulations adopted by the board of managers. The course outlined in your letter seems to be a practicable one and if embodied in the rules so as cleariy

to limit your responsibility to reasonable search where the patient is, in your opinion, mentally irresponsible, and providing for notification to friends and relatives in all cases, there could be no criticism of your failure to take extraordinary measures to return such patients.

Very truly yours,

EDWARD R. O'MALLEY,

Attorney-General.

6. Maintain an effective inspection of the affairs and management of the colony, for which purpose they shall meet at the institution at least monthly and at such other times as the by-laws shall prescribe.

Their annual meeting shall be held on the second Tuesday of October.

7. Copy in a bound book, a fair and full record of all its proceedings, which shall be open at all times to the inspection of its members and officers of the state board of charities, and all persons whom the governor or either house of the legislature may appoint to examine the same.

(As amended by chapter 149 of the Laws of 1909, and chapter 449 of the Laws of 1910.)

Board of Managers of State institution, may delegate to a committee power to open bids and let contracts.

STATE OF NEW YORK,
ATTORNEY-GENERAL'S OFFICE,

ALBANY, July 12, 1902.

W. P. SPRATLING, M, D., Superintendent, Craig Colony for Epileptics, Sonyea,

N. Y.: DEAR SIR.— I have to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the eleventh instant, referring to subdivision 7 of section 103 of the State Charities Law, and making inquiry as to whether thereunder the full board of managers may legally delegate to its committee appointed pursuant to said section the power of opening bids and letting contracts for new work.

Said subdivision defines the powers and duties of the committee appointed thereunder by prescribing that it shall “ perform such other duties and exercise such other powers as are prescribed in the by-laws or directed by the board."

I see no reason, in the absence of any specific provision of law to the contrary, why the committee may not open bids and award contracts for new work thereunder, providing it shall have been so directed and authorized by the full board of managers.

The direction to go do and the authority therefor should, however, be specifically conferred.

Yours very truly,

JOHN C. DAVIES,

Attorney-General.

« PreviousContinue »