Tucson Shooter’s Forced Medication Halted For Now

July 5, 2011 1:27 p.m.

Just four days after a San Diego judge rejected the petition by Jared Lee Loughner’s lawyers to stop his forcible medication, an appeals court in San Francisco has ordered just the opposite. A panel of three judges has halted the involuntary medication of the alleged Tucson shooter until further consideration Wednesday, CNN reports.

The 22-year-old allegedly responsible for the January shooting that killed 6 people and wounded 14 others, including Rep. Gabriel Giffords (D-AZ), was being given mind-altering psychotropic medication against his will until Tuesday afternoon.

The Court of Appeals has given until 5 p.m. PT Wednesday for US lawyers to argue why Loughner’s forced medication should continue, putting pressure on both sides of the case to “file more detailed legal briefs,” according to CNN.

Court filings last week documented a series of outbursts that were “either intended or reasonably likely to cause physical harm to another” at the Missouri prison hospital where Loughner is currently incarcerated. He “spat on his attorney, lunged at her, and had to be restrained by staff,” screamed expletives and threw chairs at the court psychologist, according to the proceedings.

He was diagnosed as a schizophrenic by the prison psychiatrist but refused to be treated for the illness. The Federal Government originally argued to forcibly medicate Loughner as a means of treatment for the mental illness, not to subdue his behavior, despite acknowledging his potential danger to others.

Loughner’s lawyers argue that he was not given a sufficient hearing when the District Court originally determined he could be given the psychotropic drugs, citing the fact that he did not have his attorney present, and officials never specified the drug and dosage he would be given.

They also argue that because Loughner is not a convicted criminal but rather a pretrial detainee, the Supreme Court precedent allowing for forcible medication of prisoners after an administrative hearing cannot apply, calling instead for a full-blown judicial hearing to determine his case.

District Judge Larry Alan Burns turned down this claim, finding “no arbitrariness” in the decision, and holding that the defendant “was afforded the required due process.”

“A dangerous individual is dangerous, whether he is a pretrial detainee or has been convicted and sentenced,” reads the Friday decision. The Appeals Court ordered a reevaluation Tuesday afternoon.

Loughner has been at a Missouri prison hospital since May, when he was declared incompetent to stand trial.

Support The TPM Journalism Fund
  • Contributions allow us to hire more journalists
  • Contributions allow us to provide free memberships to those who cannot afford them
  • Contributions support independent, non-corporate journalism
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Senior Editor:
Special Projects Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front-End Developer:
Senior Designer: