Lawyers for Tucson shooting rampage suspect Jared Lee Loughner asked a federal court again Wednesday to stop his forcible medication at a Missouri prison medical facility.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday denied an emergency motion by Loughner’s attorneys to keep federal prison officials from giving him psychotropic drugs.
Federal prosecutors claim Loughner should remain medicated because he may be a danger to himself and his mental and physical condition has been rapidly deteriorating.
In a 73-page filing late Wednesday, Loughner’s attorneys said federal prison officials “should be permanently enjoined from forcibly medicating” him. They said it violates Loughner’s right to due process on several grounds.
Loughner, 22, has pleaded not guilty to 49 charges in the Jan. 8 shooting spree that killed six people and wounded 13 others, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
He’s been at a federal prison facility in Springfield, Mo., since May 27 after a federal judge concluded he was mentally unfit to stand trial.
Mental health experts have determined Loughner suffers from schizophrenia and are trying to make him psychologically fit to stand trial. But his lawyers say only a court, not prison employees, should decide whether he can be forced to take anti-psychotic drugs.
“Being forced to take psychotropic drugs poses a severe threat to Mr. Loughner’s ability to receive a fair trial should he ever be restored to competency,” Loughner lead attorney Judy Clarke said in Wednesday’s filing to the 9th Circuit.
Loughner was forcibly medicated between June 21 and July 1 after prison officials determined his outbursts there posed a danger to others. He was given twice daily doses of Risperidone, a drug used for people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and severe behavior problems.
Prison officials stopped doing that on July 2 after the 9th Circuit granted his lawyers’ request for a temporary stay of involuntary medication. But prosecutors said Loughner was put on a 24-hour suicide watch in mid-July after he asked a prison psychologist to kill him.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Tucson also said prison staff reported that Loughner had been pacing in circles near his cell door, screaming loudly, crying for hours at a time and claiming to hear messages from a radio.
Records show the prison’s medical and psychology staff feared Loughner’s condition could worsen without immediate care and resumed medicating him July 19.
Clarke’s filing said “due process requires that the decision to forcibly medicate a pretrial detainee be made by a court, not prison administrators.”