It is hard for lawyers and doctors to see eye to eye on the fundamental problem of how to eliminate needless legalistic formality in hospitalization procedures and at the same time maintain adequate legal safeguards against error and abuse.

Lawyers are inclined to emphasize the need to guard against "railroading" sane persons into institutions without giving them a chance to prove their sanity. They therefore stress the importance of a fair trial, with adequate notice and a chance to be heard before being deprived of one's liberty. As a special committee of the American Bar Association said a few years ago, these are "fundamental principles of justice which cannot be ignored. Without them no citizen would be safe from the machinations of secret tribunals, and the most sane member of the community might be adjudged insane and landed in a madhouse. It will not do to say that it is useless to serve notice upon an insane person .... His sanity is the very thing to be tried."