Tucson shooting suspect appeals forced medication

AP News
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Posted: Nov 21, 2011 7:58 PM
Tucson shooting suspect appeals forced medication

The suspect in the deadly shooting that wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords filed an appeal Monday that challenges a federal court's decision allowing prison doctors to forcibly medicate him.

Lawyers for Jared Lee Loughner filed a 35-page brief in response to U.S. District Judge Larry Burns' Aug. 26 ruling.

Burns refused to second-guess medical experts who concluded that Loughner's condition deteriorated while at a Missouri prison facility where therapists are trying to make him competent to stand trial.

Loughner, 23, has pleaded not guilty to 49 charges in the Jan. 8 shooting that killed six people and wounded 13 others, including Giffords, at a meet-and-greet event held by the congresswoman outside a Tucson supermarket.

He's been at the Springfield, Mo., prison since late May after mental health experts determined he suffers from schizophrenia.

Loughner was forcibly medicated between June 21 and July 1 after prison doctors found he was a danger to others.

Prison officials said Loughner kept himself awake for 50 hours straight after an appeals court stopped the forced medication of anti-psychotic drugs on July 1. They also said Loughner walked in circles until he developed sores and then declined antibiotics to treat an infected foot.

Already thin, he stopped eating and shed nine pounds. The prison resumed medication July 18 after doctors found Loughner's condition has significantly worsened and that he was a danger to himself. He also was put on a suicide watch.

Loughner lead attorney Judy Clarke said in Monday's brief that their client has been denied a prompt review for the "four- to five-drug cocktail currently forced on him" by the federal court.

"Did the prison deprive Mr. Loughner of liberty without due process by failing to seek a prompt hearing to determine whether continued forced medication was justified?" Clarke wrote. "Have the prison's actions denied Mr. Loughner due process by forcibly medicating him without an adversarial hearing and a judicial determination that anti-psychotic medication is medically appropriate and, considering less intrusive means, essential to the safety of Mr. Loughner and others?"

The opening brief by Loughner's lawyers challenging to the medication ruling wasn't due until Nov. 28. It was unclear Monday why Clarke filed it a week early.

Prosecutors have until Dec. 28 to file their opening brief on the matter. An message seeking comment about Clarke's filing was left at the U.S. attorney's office in Tucson after business hours Monday.