Forced Drugging for Loughner 'Reasonable', says Judge

  on August 27 2011 4:39 PM

Forced medication should be used on Jared Lee Loughner -- the suspect in a shooting rampage that left a congresswoman with brain damage, and six dead -- as he shows increasingly stranger behavior without it.

Loughner has kept himself awake for 50 hours, and walked in circles until he developed sores and then declined antibiotics to treat an infected foot. He has already shed 9 pounds.

Such behavior was described by U.S. District Judge Larry Burns to resume forced medication July 18, a move he called entirely appropriate and reasonable.

He rejected a move by Loughner's lawyers last Friday that would have allowed him to go unmediated.

His lawyers argue that less intrusive means were available, like minor tranquilizers or restraints, and continued doping was a violation of his personal liberty.

Prison officials should also have given Loughner an opportunity to present witnesses about his hearing, the filing said.

In July Loughner's defense team first appealed a federal judge's decision that allows him to be forcibly medicated with mind-altering psychotropic drugs.

The defense, who filed its appeal in the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit,  contended the procedure violates his rights.

Prosecutors argued that Loughner needed to be medicated as he was a danger to himself and to others, and was not psychologically fit to stand trial.

The defense tried to appeal after US District Judge Larry Burns rejected an emergency petition in June that called for prison officials to stop medicating him. Instead, Burns deferred to the medical judgment the doctors.

He has already been administered powerful drugs, the hearing revealed.

I have no reason to disagree with the doctors here, he said at the time.

Prosecutors are hoping that the mix of psychotropic drugs, which are for treating mental illness, will restore Loughner to mental competency so he can stand trial .

He is accused of gunning down U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and a  number of other people at a political gathering outside a Tucson supermarket on January 8.

The drugs are necessary to control Loughners mental illness, prosecutors said.

This is a person who is a ticking time bomb, prosecutor Wallace Kleindienst said. He's lunged at his defense counsel and spits at her.

Indeed, court filings said that during an interview with a court-appointed psychologist in March, Loughner became enraged and threw a plastic chair at her -- twice. He also spat and lunged at his attorney.

Loughner pleaded not guilty in March to 49 charges stemming from the shooting rampage, including multiple counts of first-degree murder.

The 22-year-old college dropout has been forcibly medicated after an administrative hearing last month concluded he was a danger.

At the competency hearing in May, Burns cited the conclusions of two medical experts that Loughner suffers from schizophrenia, disordered thinking and delusions.

The judge has set a hearing for September 21 to determine whether Loughner's condition had improved enough for the proceedings against him to resume.

Loughner has pleaded not guilty to 49 charges in the Jan. 8 shooting.

 

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