Criminal Justice

9th Circuit Extends Injunction Barring Forced Medication of Loughner

A federal appeals court has extended an injunction that bars the forced medication of Tucson shooting suspect Jared Lee Loughner.

The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted an emergency stay last week that barred prison officials from forcibly medicating Loughner with anti-psychotic drugs. On Tuesday, the appeals court extended the forced medication ban and scheduled a hearing for the week of Aug. 29 to consider the issue, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) reports.

Loughner was found incompetent to stand trial in a January shooting that killed six people, including U.S. District Judge John Roll. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was among the injured.

Prosecutors had claimed Loughner needs medication because he is a danger to others. Defense lawyers claim the danger justification is intended to avoid more stringent Supreme Court requirements for forcible medication to restore competency for trial.

The government “has managed to keep Loughner in custody for over six months without injury to anyone,” the appeals court wrote in its order (PDF). “We are confident it can continue to do so for the short period it will take to resolve this appeal on the merits.”

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