Judge Signs Off on Decision to Forcibly Medicate Loughner

     (CN) – Prison doctors can force Tucson shooting suspect Jared Lee Loughner to take antipsychotic drugs, a federal judge ruled.

     U.S. District Judge Larry Burns said he would not second-guess medical decisions, and rejected defense arguments against forcing Loughner to take medication at a hearing in San Diego on Wednesday.
     Last week, defense attorney Judy Clarke filed an emergency motion to enjoin the forcible medicating of her client, claiming that the prison doctors made the decision to medicate based on a thin justification that Loughner is dangerous.
     Prosecutors argued that Loughner is a clear danger to himself and others.
     Since being declared incompetent to stand trial in late May, Loughner has several times thrown chairs around his cell. Staff at federal facility in Springfield, Mo., where Loughner is being held, described the suspect’s behavior as “escalating,” prosecutors said.
     Several months ago, Loughner spit on and lunged at his defense attorney and threw chairs during an interview, according to court filings.
     In its latest filing, the government said Loughner has been taking medication orally and that he is “tolerating the medication well.”
     The Jan. 8 shooting spree that Loughner is accused of committing resulted in the injury of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the deaths of six people, including a 9-year-old girl, U.S. District Judge John Roll and Giffords’ aide Gabriel Zimmerman.

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