Attempts to forcibly medicate Dr. Sell in order to make him fit to stand trial attracted the attention of the Supreme Court after lower courts found Sell to be nonviolent. The Supreme Court refused to hear another case, involving Russell Weston, when Courts ordered his forcible medication to render him fit to stand trial. Weston was accused of shooting up the U.S. Capitol in 1998 and killing two people.
Sell has also granted jailhouse interviews with shows like ?Dateline NBC? that have taken an interest in his case because of attempts to forcibly medicate him despite his nonviolent status. Many legal observers have been intrigued by the case because the government has been steadfastly arguing Sell?s incompetence to stand trial. Governments consistently oppose such claims, which are almost exclusively raised by the defense.
But now, there is evidence suggesting that Sell may be ready to stand trial without the forcible administration of anti-psychotic drugs. In May, one of Sell?s lawyers, Lee Lawless, called witnesses at a hearing to prove that Sell is now fit to stand trial.
During nearly 45 minutes of questioning, the chained and handcuffed dentist was able to recite the names of every school he attended, the functions of all of the court members, and the birthdates of his five children. While his past shows a record of instability in the medical sense, the standard of competence to stand trial is a legal concept. Sell must merely show an ability to assist his lawyers and to understand the charges against him. The dentist was able to recite all of the charges against him during his hearing in May.
But competence to stand trial was not the only legal issue raised in Sell?s federal court hearing in May. The other issue involved an effort to review videotapes that allegedly show Dr. Sell being attacked at the federal prison hospital. Sell?s allegations about the conduct of the guards at the federal prison hospital are serious. They include the following:
*Handcuffing numerous inmates to bunks for 30 consecutive days.
*Beating Sell to the point of a rupture or hernia that caused a seven-inch-long lump on his abdomen.
*Stripping Sell and shackling him to a concrete block for over 19 hours.
*Stripping Sell and spraying him for 10 minutes with scalding water in front of a female nurse.