U.S. Supreme Court
Caritativo v. California, 357 U.S. 549 (1958)
Caritativo v. California
Argued May 21, 1958
Decided June 30, 1958
357 U.S. 549
California law forbids the execution of an insane person, but leaves to the sole judgment of the prison warden the initiation of proceedings to determine the sanity of a condemned criminal in his custody. If the warden "has good reason to believe" that a condemned prisoner has become insane, he must so advise the district attorney, who must institute court proceeding leading to a determination of the prisoner's sanity by a jury. But, if the warden does not take the first step, no judge, court, or officer, other than the Governor, can suspend the execution of a death sentence. Petitioners had been convicted of murder and sentenced to death, and their convictions had been affirmed by the State Supreme Court. Subsequently, the warden of the prison where they were confined determined that there was no reason to believe them insane, and refused to institute proceedings to determine their sanity. The State Supreme Court denied writs of habeas corpus to review the warden's determinations.
Held: the judgments are affirmed on the authority of Solesbee v. Balkcom, 339 U. S. 9.