Court Rules Accused Tucson Shooter Can Be Forcibly Medicated

June 30, 2011 6:24 a.m.

An emergency hearing Wednesday determined Jared Lee Loughner will continue to be be given psychotropic medication against his will. Reuters reports that a court filing urged the motion due to behavior that was “either intended or reasonably likely to cause physical harm to another,” which included spitting on his attorney and throwing chairs at the prison psychologist.

The alleged Tucson shooter is on trial for killing 6 people and wounding 14 others, including Rep. Gabriel Giffords (D-AZ), who made her first public appearance since the January shooting at a NASA space center in Houston on Monday.Loughner, 22, had been diagnosed as a schizophrenic by a prison psychologist and court-appointed psychiatrist, but refused to take the recommended medication, according to court filings. He has been forcibly medicated since June 21.

He “spat on his attorney, lunged at her, and had to be restrained by staff” on April 4, and later threw chairs in his cell.

He was notified that if actions on his part showed “dangerousness to others within the correctional setting,” the psychiatrist would “authorize treatment with psychotropic medication on an involuntary basis.”

According to court proceedings, Loughner said “Fuck you,” while being interviewed by the court psychiatrist and threw a plastic chair twice towards the doctor. He “wet a roll of toilet paper attempting to throw it at the camera, and again threw the chair twice. The chair hit the grill between the defendant and Dr. Pietz,” according to the court filing.

On the day of an initial hearing to determine if he was to be be involuntarily medicated, Loughner refused an offer to be present in court and instead “barricaded himself by lying down behind his bed,” the court psychiatrists reported.

The defendant then submitted a written appeal to object to the court decision in favor of involuntarily medication, which “contained some profanities.”

“He claims that judicial approval is required before a prison can medicate an inmate for this reason,” state the filings. “The defendant is incorrect.”

U.S. District Judge Larry Burns rejected the emergency petition from Loughner’s lawyers which argued that the medication violated his constitutional rights, reported Reuters. His lawyers also argued he was being given more potent medication than necessary.

Loughner is currently incarcerated at a prison hospital in Missouri, and was not in court for the hearing in U.S. District Court in San Diego after Burns determined him mentally incompetent to stand trial.

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