Mayock v. Martin

Decision Date23 July 1968
Citation157 Conn. 56,245 A.2d 574
CourtConnecticut Supreme Court
PartiesPeter R. MAYOCK v. Morgan MARTIN, Superintendent, Norwich State Hospital.

Joseph T. Sweeney, Hartford, for appelllant (plaintiff).

Ernest H. Halstedt, Asst. Atty. Gen., with whom, on the brief, was Robert K. Killian, Atty. Gen., for appellee (defendant).


RYAN, Associate Justice.

In this application for a writ of habeas corpus, the plaintiff claims that his confinement in the Norwich State Hospital is illegal because his present mental condition does not require, nor does it legally justify, his involuntary confinement or custodial care. From the judgment dismissing the writ, the plaintiff has appealed.

The few corrections to which the plaintiff has shown himself entitled are incorporated in the following statement of facts found by the trial court: The plaintiff was first confined to the Norwich State Hospital in October, 1943, and was released in January, 1944. On July 23, 1944, the plaintiff removed his right eye and was recommitted but was released subsequently for a probationary period. On July 20, 1947, the last day of the probationary period, the plaintiff, after examination by a staff physician, was unconditionally discharged from the hospital. Three days later, on July 23, 1947, the plaintiff removed his right hand. Shortly thereafter, he was again committed to the state hospital, where he is still confined. The plaintiff runs the newsstand in the hospital's administration building, where he sells newspapers and magazines to employees and to patients of the hospital. In this operation, he has been entrusted with the handling of financial matters. He has been placed in charge of a recreation center for parole-privileged patients which is operated by a committee of patients for group-recreational activity on weekends and which also serves coffee and performs other functions for patients. He believes sincerely that he is a prophet or revelator with a divine message. He believes in God and in doing what God wants us to do on earth. He also believes that society is trying to establish world peace by force but that God's way is by a brotherhood which seeks through the commandment of God to make people love one another; that world peace and brotherhood will be established by a certain church of God which the Old Testament refers to as being established by God in the latter days in the Holy Mountain; that, if the world continues in the present direction, many lives will be lost and that he has a responsibility in this matter; that he has a key role to fulfil in establishing world peace through the revelation and disclosure of the divine message; that he was not born into the country without a reason and that he was not born left-handed without a reason; that God has intended that one man shall be called to make a peace offering to God; that it is far better for one man to believe and accept an appropriate message from God to sacrifice an eye or a hand according to the sacred scriptures rather than for the present course of the world to cause even greater loss of human life; that the removal of his eye in July, 1944, was an offer of thanks to God for a revelation which he received and that it was God's command that he remove it; that the removal of his right hand in July, 1947, was an offering to God as a covenant between God and him as the person selected; that in each of these acts he has complied properly with sacred scripture; and that he is the one man called upon by God to make such spiritual sacrifices. The plaintiff has a strong belief in the Bible. Although he does not plan to cut off either of his feet or any other part of his body, he admits that he would cut off his foot either as a freewill offering or in response to a revelation from the Lord. The plaintiff wants to be released from the hospital so that he can better express his divine message to our people and our policy makers.

The court also found as facts the following: When the plaintiff first entered the state hospital on October 2, 1943, his mental condition was diagnosed as dementia praecox, paranoid type, and this continued to be the diagnosis to the time of trial. This condition is manifested by what psychiatrists term the plaintiff's false beliefs regarding his role as a prophet, his divine message and the meaning of sacred scripture. These beliefs and the fact that he acted upon them by the removal of his eye and the amputation of his hand are the only factors which entered into the diagnosis that the plaintiff is mentally ill. Such beliefs were held by the plaintiff not only before these incidents but ever since then. Because of his persistent false beliefs without any observable improvement, it is expected that these beliefs will remain for a foreseeable period of time, and the possibility of a further self-injurious act cannot be ruled out. Although the possibility of suicide is ruled out, there is a possibility that the plaintiff might receive further communications from God and might respond by removing a foot. The mere medical diagnosis of dementia praecox, paranoid type, would not in itself require the plaintiff's confinement in a hospital for the mentally ill. In the opinion of the psychiatrist from the staff of the state hospital, the plaintiff is not dangerous to anyone other than himself. He has not done any self-injurious act in twenty years. The plaintiff's mental condition has remained about the same since 1947, but there is no evidence of gross worsening of this condition. The fact that the plaintiff currently needs further confinement in a hospital for the mentally ill is based on the opinion of the psychiatrist that there is a possibility that the plaintiff might cut off his right foot. The plaintiff's religious beliefs are considered by the psychiatrist as 'grandiose' and 'grossly false' and represent a fantasy which is one of the primary symptoms of schizophrenic reaction, paranoid type. The plaintiff's removal of his right eye in 1944 and his right hand in 1947 were not the manifestations of a religious belief but indications of a mental illness. The mental illness from which the plaintiff suffered in 1947 still persists, and he is currently in need of further confinement in a hospital for the mentally ill.

The trial court reached the following conclusions: (1) The plaintiff is currently being held and involuntarily confined in the Norwich State Hospital. (2) During the entire period of his confinement, the plaintiff has been mentally ill with a condition known as dementia praecox, paranoid type. (3) This medical diagnosis is currently based on certain of the plaintiff's religious beliefs, upon which he acted selfinjuriously twenty years ago. (4) The plaintiff sincerely professes these beliefs and attributes them to sacred scriptures and to certain divine revelations which he sincerely believes he has received from God. (5) If the plaintiff were to respond to a communication from God by removing one of his feet, such an act on his part would be inconsistent with the peace and safety of the state. (6) Neither the plaintiff's federal nor his state constitutional rights are being violated by his confinement in the Norwich State Hospital.

The plaintiff assigns error in the fifth and sixth conclusions of the trial court. The court's conclusions are to be tested by the finding and must stand unless they are legally or logically inconsistent with the facts found or unless they involve the application of some erroneous rule of law material to the case. Johnston Jewels, Ltd. v. Leonard, 156 Conn. 75, 79, 239 A.2d 500.

The plaintiff's basic claim is that he is being illegally confined because of his religious beliefs in violation of the first and fourteenth amendments to the United States constitution and of article first, §§ 3 and 20, of the Connecticut constitution. He urges that he is not likely to injure any other person; that, at the very worst, the state is concerned with a mere...

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8 cases
  • State v. Boucher
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • May 31, 1988
    ...Midas shops. See Fidelity & Casualty Co. v. Constitution National Bank, 167 Conn. 478, 491, 356 A.2d 117 (1975); Mayock v. Martin, 157 Conn. 56, 63, 245 A.2d 574 (1968), cert. denied, 393 U.S. 1111, 89 S.Ct. 924, 21 L.Ed.2d 808 (1969). Midas, in turn, makes its products and services availab......
  • Hopkins v. Hamden Bd. of Ed.
    • United States
    • Connecticut Court of Common Pleas
    • August 31, 1971
    ...protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.' Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296, 303, 60 S.Ct. 900, 903, 84 L.Ed. 1213; Mayock v. Martin, 157 Conn. 56, 64, 245 A.2d 574. The principal objection to the curriculum was heard at trial from parents of the Catholic religious faith. The basis for th......
  • Logan v. Arafeh
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Connecticut
    • September 13, 1972 any time during the period of his confinement through a habeas corpus proceeding in the state courts. See Mayock v. Martin, 157 Conn. 56, 245 A.2d 574 (1968). In this regard, it should be noted that such a proceeding is privileged with respect to assignment for trial. Connecticut Practic......
  • Hames v. Hames
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • September 20, 1972
    ...the application of some erroneous rule of law material to the case. Covino v. Pfeffer, 160 Conn. 212, 216, 276 A.2d 895; Mayock v. Martin, 157 Conn. 56, 62, 245 A.2d 574, cert. denied, 393 U.S. 1111, 89 S.Ct. 924, 21 L.Ed.2d 808; Commission on Human Rights & Opportunities v. Veneri, 157 Con......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • Self-Destructive Behavior and the Hereafter
    • United States
    • International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology No. 49-2, April 2005
    • April 1, 2005
    ...Press.Knight, R. P.(1937). The psychodynamics of chronic alcoholism. Journal of Nervous & Mental Dis-ease,86, 538-548.Mayock v. Martin, 157 Conn. 56, 245 A.2d 574,cert. denied, 393 U.S. 1111 (1968).Menninger, K. (1938). Man against himself. New York: Harcourt Brace.Moon, S. M. (1997). The c......

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