Appeals court hears Loughner medication arguments

AP News
Posted: Jul 07, 2011 9:03 PM
Appeals court hears Loughner medication arguments

A federal appeals court panel is considering whether federal prison officials can resume forcibly giving anti-psychotic medication to the suspect in the Tucson shooting rampage.

The three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments from federal prosecutors and Jared Lee Loughner's defense lawyers in Pasadena, Calif., Thursday afternoon. It isn't known when a ruling will be issued.

The same three judges ordered the medication halted late last week after an emergency appeal by Loughner's lawyers.

U.S. District Judge Larry Burns ruled last week doctors at the federal prison in Springfield, Mo., could medicate Loughner after determining he was a danger. Loughner had been forcibly medicated between June 21 and July 1 at a federal facility in Springfield, Mo., after prison officials determined his outbursts there posed a danger.

The 22-year-old has pleaded not guilty to 49 charges in the Jan. 8 shooting that killed six people and wounded 13 others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. He has been at the Missouri facility since late May after mental health experts had determined he suffers from schizophrenia and Burns ruled him mentally unfit to stand trial.

Loughner's lawyers argued that medicating him against his will would violate his right to due process and that he would suffer irreparable harm if the medication continues. They want the temporary injunction preventing the medication kept in place while they pursue a full appeal of Burns' order allowing it to continue.