Elizabeth Morgan was freed last night after 759 days in the D.C. Jail, with no end in sight to the traumatic child custody dispute that put her there. Morgan, whose refusal to obey a visitation order led D.C. Superior Court Judge Herbert B. Dixon Jr. to jail her in August 1987, remained defiant yesterday. She vowed to continue her campaign to strip Eric A. Foretich, her former husband, of his parental rights over their daughter Hilary, and she said Hilary would remain in hiding until the case was resolved to her satisfaction. Asked if she would provide evidence of Hilary's well-being, Morgan said, "I really feel I owe it to her to keep her safe, not to satisfy people's curiosity . . . . The one thing I have learned in the two years I have kept her safe is that by giving no information I'm protecting her." Morgan, who dissolved her marriage to Foretich shortly before Hilary's birth seven years ago, asserts that her former husband sexually assaulted Hilary from about the age of 2. Foretich, who denies the allegations, contends that Morgan is mentally ill. "I guess it's a victory for Elizabeth Morgan," Foretich said in an interview last night. "Fine. I don't care. I just want my daughter." The 41-year-old surgeon's release from jail followed a remarkable chain of events in which a Congressional bill -- tailored narrowly to freeing Morgan -- was signed by President Bush Saturday and her attorneys spent yesterday scrambling in the D.C. Superior Court and the D.C. Court of Appeals to have the law applied to her case. The full panel of the District's highest court spent most of the afternoon cloistered in a sixth-floor conference room, then emerged at 4:45 p.m. with an order for Morgan's release "forthwith." Because the technical form of the order was a "remand," or a direction to a lower court, Morgan was forced to await a brief hearing called by Superior Court Judge Geoffrey M. Alprin at 6:30 p.m. "Upon consideration of the judgment of the D.C. Court of Appeals . . . it is this 25th day of September, 1989, ordered that plaintiff Jean Elizabeth Morgan shall be released from custody . . . at 8:06 p.m.," Alprin ruled from the bench at 7:06 p.m. Morgan emerged from the D.C. Jail in a car at 8:44 p.m., and was met by camera crews and supporters who had spent the day staking out the Receiving and Discharging gate. Smiling, dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit and carrying a dozen yellow roses, Morgan appeared arm-in-arm with her fiance, Paul R. Michel, a U.S. Court of Appeals judge. Among her first acts outside was to hug her brother, Robert M. Morgan. Standing in a steady rain on a parking lot outside the gate, Morgan told reporters, "I feel very happy and I feel very grateful, and I'll probably cry when I say this, but I thank God for putting so many angels on Earth." Asked where she would go, Morgan replied, "Wherever my fiance takes me." In her more than two years at the jail, Morgan launched assault after legal assault on Judge Dixon and the constitutionality of her confinement. An unprecedented 49 motions, 15 appeals and four full oral arguments deluged the appeals court. Last month, she met her first success, winning a 2 to 1 panel decision in the appeals court that said she had proved that she will never relent in her determination to keep her daughter in hiding. Because her confinement for civil contempt of court was intended to coerce her, not to punish, the appeals court said she must be freed. Any further punishment, the court said, must be preceded by a trial with due process of law. That decision never took effect. Simultaneously with its release, the full nine-judge panel of the appeals court voted to nullify the decision and hold a new hearing of the entire court. That decision, in turn, was rendered moot by a bill that finished an extraordinary sweep through Congress over the weekend. The bill, closely tailored to Morgan's case and intended to place a one-year limit on her confinement, was signed into law by President Bush on Saturday. Even at its final stage, the decision to free Morgan was marked by the drama and confusion that has accompanied the case since her confinement. Friends and supporters had interpreted Bush's signature of the bill as an order to free Elizabeth Morgan. It was not. Even the president cannot order a prisoner's release; a judge is required for that. The D.C. courts had to decide whether the new law applied to Morgan, and whether it was unconstitutional, as Foretich contended. But first the courts had to decide something even more basic: They had to decide who should decide. Jurisdiction is typically the first thing that has to be established in a legal dispute, because a judge has no authority unless an issue is properly in his court. There are elaborate rules and laws governing jurisdiction, but Morgan's case was so unusual that it is unclear which rules applied. It was apparently unprecedented, according to lawyers closely following the case, to have Congress pass a law tailored to a single case at a time when the case was pending on appeal. "These are procedures that no one seems to know all the answers," said Elaine Mittleman, Foretich's lawyer. When Bush signed the new law, Morgan's lawyers apparently could have petitioned for a writ of habeus corpus in D.C. Superior Court, asserting that there was no longer a lawful reason to keep their client in jail. They chose instead to go directly to the D.C. Court of Appeals, which already was considering Morgan's case, with an emergency request for Morgan's freedom. Yesterday afternoon beginning at 2 p.m., the seven judges deciding Morgan's case met to consider their next move. Foretich opposed Morgan's release. Mittleman, his lawyer, argued that the new law was a breach of the constitutional separation of powers and that "Congress has usurped the court's authority" to decide the case. She also said that Congress had enacted the new law without due process to Foretich and Hilary, and that the law interfered with their right to enjoy their parent-child relationship. The appeals court made no ruling on the constitutional challenge, but said Morgan must be freed while the question is pending. Adding to the confusion yesterday was the absence of Dixon, the trial judge who first sent Morgan to jail. Dixon, who is on leave, was said to be in California until Oct. 2. The Superior Court's chief judge, Fred B. Ugast, who would normally decide who should take the case in Dixon's absence, also was out of town yesterday, as was Judge Bruce S. Mencher, the presiding judge of the court's family division. It fell to Alprin, Mencher's deputy, to handle Morgan's release. Even with Morgan's release, the case is far from over. Hilary, who has not seen either parent for more than two years, will still be subject to Dixon's authority, and Morgan has vowed to leave Hilary in hiding as long as she remains unsatisfied that the law will protect Hilary from abuse. Morgan testified in June that she would marry Michel and live with him in the District, but that she would not bring Hilary home with her until the custody case was resolved to her satisfaction. Neither will Morgan's release from jail end her legal jeopardy. The new law, which places a one-year limit on incarceration for civil contempt of court in child custody cases, allows Morgan's prosecution on charges of criminal contempt of court or parental kidnapping. There also remain enough civil suits to keep the controversy going for several years. In addition to the child custody case, which continues, Foretich recently sued Morgan and 10 close associates in at least three civil cases in the District and Virginia, alleging that they have defamed him and deprived him of his right to a relationship with Hilary. "Since he is suing us, it will give us a chance to have the open trial by jury we've been asking for so long," Morgan said. Staff writers Chris Spolar and Lynne Duke contributed to this report.