Loughner appeals ruling over forced medication

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 01, 2011 11:03 PM
Loughner appeals ruling over forced medication

TUCSON, Arizona (Reuters) - Lawyers for Tucson shooting suspect Jared Lee Loughner on Friday appealed a ruling allowing him to be forcibly medicated with psychotropic drugs.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Larry Burns rejected an emergency petition to order prison officials to stop forcibly medicating Loughner, saying he would defer to the judgment of doctors treating him.

Defense for Loughner said they had appealed the ruling to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

He is accused of opening fire on U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and a crowd of bystanders attending a political gathering outside a Tucson supermarket on January 8.

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

Loughner has been treated at a hospital for federal prisoners in Springfield, Missouri, since he was found mentally incompetent to stand trial at a hearing in late May.

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

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

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.

(Writing by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Jerry Norton)