Federal prison officials have decided to forcibly medicate Jared Lee Loughner, the young man on trial for the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and others, with unspecified anti-psychotic medications.
The Courthouse News Service reported that Loughner’s defense attorney, Judy Clark, has filed a motion (PDF) to fight the involuntary administration of psychiatric medications, claiming it violates 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.
Clarke’s motion calls on Burns to rescind that decision.
“The decision, made solely by the Bureau of Prisons, to involuntarily and forcibly medicate Mr. Loughner based on dangerousness is an end run around the right to a judicial determination of whether an incompetent defendant can be involuntarily and forcibly medicated to restore competency to stand trial,” Clarke wrote in her motion.
Clarke has been unable to obtain information about Loughner’s condition, including whether the prison has already begun to forcibly medicate him. She claims that prison officials’ justification for involuntarily administering medication to Loughner is insufficient.
“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,” she wrote.
Loughner must be restored to mental competency before he can stand trial. He pleaded not guilty to 49 charges in March.