Circuit Finds Flaws in Forced-Medication Order

     (CN) - An arson suspect who says a "Ku Klux Klan Mafia mob organization" is out to murder him may yet avert a forcible-medication order, the 9th Circuit ruled Wednesday.
     Joseph Brooks was indicted in 2011 for allegedly trying to burn cables that connected a radio antenna on the roof of Portland's Oregon Health Sciences University.
     Brooks has a history of schizophrenia and was forcibly medicated after an assault charge in 2004. At a 2012 hearing in the arson case, the indictment for which is sealed, Brooks said that a "Ku Klux Klan Mafia mob organization" had put out a contract on his life, "as foretold in the Biblical Book of Revelations." The head of the Ku Klux Klan, he said, was "the owner manager of the Riverside Motel in Vancouver, Washington."
     Though Brooks insisted that he was not delusional, violent or in need of medication, U.S. District Judge Ancer Haggerty disagreed and authorized the use of antipsychotic medication to restore his competency for trial. Haggerty neglected, however, to place a time limit on the order, which was stayed pending Brooks' appeal to the 9th Circuit.
     Calling the forcible drugging of suspected criminals "among the most weighty decisions our society can make," a three-judge appellate panel on Wednesday ordered a re-evaluation of the Brooks' mental health.
     Both parties agreed that the order required a time limit, according to the 15-page ruling.
     "Given that more than a year has passed since the district court's initial ... hearing, the court should also ascertain whether there have been significant changes in Brooks's mental and medical condition or in the relevant standard of care for treatment aimed at restoring competency," Judge Morgan Christen wrote for the panel.
     Brooks has been held at the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Missouri since 2011, according to the ruling.
     Christen added that the lower court must consider, among other things, "the potential for and anticipated length of future civil commitment in the event the defendant is not medicated and the amount of time the defendant has already been confined, versus the period of confinement that could reasonably be expected if the defendant were restored to competency and convicted of the charged offense."