The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Tuesday halted the forced medication of Jared Lee Loughner, the young man on trial for the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others, until a panel can hear arguments from his lawyers and prosecutors, CNN reported.
Loughner’s defense attorney, Judy Clark, filed a motion to fight the involuntary administration of anti-psychotic medications, claiming it violated the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
U.S. District Judge Larry Burns ordered Loughner to undergo a mental evaluation in Missouri, despite objections that transferring him from Tucson could worsen his mental state. Burns ruled in May that Loughner was mentally incompetent to stand trial.
The United States Medical Center for Federal Prisoners decided on June 14 to involuntarily and forcibly medicate Loughner on the grounds that he is a danger to himself and others. He reportedly threw a plastic chair against the wall of his cell and spit on his attorney over two months ago.
“Countless prisoners, detainees, and institutionalized people have spit or worse, including throwing feces or urine on other inmates and guards, physically assaulting and injuring other inmates and guards, without being subjected to forced medication, much less mind-altering psychotropic medications,” Clark wrote.
Burns rejected the motion to halt the forced medication, and Loughner’s lawyers appealed his ruling Friday.
The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has given the federal government until 5pm on Wednesday to argue that the involuntary administration of psychiatric medications should continue.
Loughner must be restored to mental competency before he can stand trial. He pleaded not guilty to 49 charges in March.
Eric W. Dolan
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