In a motion filed late Friday, Jared Loughner's attorneys argue that the Justice Department is making an end-run around the usual process in order to forcibly medicate him without a court hearing.
Indeed, attorney Judy Clarke says, federal-prison officials may already be forcing Loughner to take anti-psychotic medications, without the issue being aired in court.
In the filing (attached), Clarke offers a peek into Loughner's behavior while in prison. She says he has twice thrown plastic chairs within his cell, once while being interviewed by psychologist Christina Pietz. Another time, Loughner spat at his attorney, the filing says, without naming the specific victim within his defense team.
"Indeed, when Mr. Loughner threw his chair during the March 28th Pietz interview, she never once tried to talk to him about why he did it other than confirm his outburst was directed at his attorneys," Clarke writes. "Rather, she simply asked him if he was okay and proceeded to ask questions aqbout his family history -- without interruption -- for nearly another hour."
A prison hearing took place June 14 to determine what to do about Loughner, the filing says. He asked for an attorney, but he was only offered a prison social-worker as an advocate, Clarke says.
At that hearing, prison officials determined that because of the chair-throwing and spitting incidents, Loughner is a danger to others, the filing says. And because he is a danger to others in the prison, they determined, he should be treated with anti-psychotic medications.
Clarke questions why his behavior suddenly became an urgent matter after a judge ruled him incompetent to stand trial on May 25, given that two of the incidents had happened months before.
"On the two isolate occasions Mr. Loughner engaged in this conduct (chair-throwing), BOP staff saw no need to even write up a report," Clarke writes.
In essence, she argues, the same Justice Department that is prosecuting Loughner through the U.S. Attorney's Office is forcing him to take anti-psychotic drugs through a Bureau of Prisons process.
There is no evidence that prison officials considered steps other than forcing Loughner to take anti-psychotic drugs, even though intermediate steps may work, the filings says. Mild tranquilizers, for example, might help reduce Loughner's agitation without forcing anti-psychotic medication on him.
"This focus on treating mental illness rather than mitigating danger is impermissible," Clarke writes.
The government must file its response by the end of the day Tuesday.