Tags: Supreme | Court: | Government | May | Medicate | Some | Defendants

Supreme Court: Government May Medicate Some Defendants

Monday, 16 June 2003 12:00 AM

Writing for the 6-3 majority, Justice Stephen Breyer said a court must find some "important government interests" are at stake. Once past that hurdle, the court must conclude that forcing medication will further those government interests, that the medication is substantially likely to make a defendant competent for trial with no side effects that would interfere in conducting a defense, that the involuntary medication is necessary to further those interests without a less intrusive alternative, and finally, that administering the drugs is medically appropriate.

The ruling came in the case of Charles Sell, a former dentist charged with insurance fraud and attempting to murder an FBI agent, who refused to take anti-psychotic medication at the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Mo.

Breyer said a lower court should reconsider whether the government could medicate Sell, 53, of St. Louis, who has spent more than four years in a prison hospital as his lawyers fought over his drugging. Breyer said that the court must consider "alternative, less intrusive treatments."

In a dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia, joined by Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Clarence Thomas, said that the ruling would allow some criminal defendants "to engage in opportunistic behavior" to thwart prosecutions.

Association of American Physicians & Surgeons today celebrate Breyer's ruling and its role in stopping the forced drugging of Sell.

"Never did we think our own country would imprison a peaceful defendant for more than five years without a trial," commented AAPS General Counsel Andrew Schlafly. "We are gratified that the Supreme Court sees no justification in the record for forcibly drugging him. We used to complain when the communists engaged in such tactics. This should not occur in America."

Sell has been diagnosed with a delusional disorder. According to court records, he has seen imaginary leopards, believes the FBI is trying to kill him and wants to go into combat.

According to AAPS, "Had he been tried and convicted" of defrauding Medicaid, "he would have already served the full term of a sentence."

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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Writing for the 6-3 majority, Justice Stephen Breyer said a court must find some "important government interests" are at stake. Once past that hurdle, the court must conclude that forcing medication will further those government interests, that the medication is...
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Monday, 16 June 2003 12:00 AM
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