Court Won’t Bar Forced Medication Of Tucson Suspect

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TUCSON (AP) — A federal appeals court has refused to bar prison officials from forcibly administering a psychotropic drug to Jared L. Loughner, the suspect in a shooting rampage here that left six people dead.
Judges from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Friday night denied an emergency motion on the medication from defense lawyers. They also rejected the lawyers’ request for daily reports about Mr. Loughner’s condition at a federal prison facility in Springfield, Mo.

Federal prosecutors said in a filing earlier Friday that Mr. Loughner should remain medicated because he may be a danger to himself and because his mental and physical conditions were rapidly deteriorating.

Mr. Loughner, 22, has pleaded not guilty to 49 charges in the Jan. 8 shooting that left six people dead and 13 wounded, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona. He has been at the Springfield facility since May 27 after a federal judge concluded that he was mentally unfit to help in his legal defense. Mental health experts have determined that Mr. Loughner suffers from schizophrenia and will try to make him psychologically fit to stand trial.

On Thursday, defense lawyers questioned whether the forced medication violated an earlier order by the court that forbade officials from involuntarily medicating Mr. Loughner as judges consider an appeal on his behalf.

The United States attorney for Arizona, Dennis K. Burke, wrote in his filing on Friday that “despite being under suicide watch, Loughner’s unmedicated behavior is endangering him.”

Mr. Loughner was forcibly medicated between June 21 and July 1 after prison officials determined that his outbursts posed a danger to others. He was given twice-daily doses of Risperidone, which is used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and severe behavior problems.

Reported by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

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