Loughner's lawyers keep up fight over drugs

AP News
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Posted: Jun 10, 2011 5:11 PM
Loughner's lawyers keep up fight over drugs

Lawyers for the suspect in the Tucson shooting rampage renewed their push to be notified before their client is given psychotropic drugs.

In a new court filing, defense attorney Judy Clarke said Thursday that 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner can't communicate rationally about his case and other matters because of severe mental illness.

Attorneys need notice if Loughner is given psychotropic drugs to decide whether to take action to protect his rights, Clarke said.

"Because of the pervasive nature of Mr. Loughner's illness and its severe impact on his rational understanding and ability to communicate, counsel resolved that making a basic and straightforward request of the court for notice was appropriate and needed no further justification," she wrote.

U.S. District Judge Larry Burns denied a similar request June 2, saying he's confident that staff at a federal prison facility in Springfield, Mo., knows Loughner may not be forcibly medicated without Burns' authorization.

Clarke wrote in her latest filing that she understands that arrangement but has been advised that the Springfield facility likely will hold an administrative hearing about the matter, and that attorneys need to know what their plans are in order to respond.

She said psychotropic drugs could have "serious and possibly permanent side effects" on Loughner and affect his ability to assist his defense.

Burns ruled last month that Loughner is mentally unfit to assist his lawyers or understand the charges he faces. He was sent to the Springfield facility for treatment.

Loughner has pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from the Jan. 8 Tucson mass shooting that killed six and injured 13, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.