(CN) – The government does not have to videotape medical evaluations of Tucson shooting defendant Jared Lee Loughner, a federal judge ruled, finding that it would be distracting to Loughner and a burden to doctors.
“The defendant’s original competency examination was videotaped, and this was apparently very distracting to the defendant and a hindrance to the FMC staff conducting the examination,” U.S. District Judge Larry Burns wrote, referring to the Medical Center for Federal Prisons in Springfield, Mo., where Loughner is undergoing treatment for schizophrenia after a federal judge declared him incompetent to stand trial.
Loughner is charged with carrying out a shooting rampage on Jan. 8 that killed six people and injured 13, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
During the competency exampination, Loughner “more than once … questioned the need for the camera while the staff was interacting with him, and on one occasion in particular he reacted violently to it,” Burns added.
Loughner’s attorney Judy Clarke had asked for an order to videotape future sessions Loughner has since the suspect is expected to remain at the facility indefinitely while doctors assess his competence.
Burns said Clarke’s notion of what constitutes a clinical assessment is too broad and would place an undue burden on examiners.
“The uncertain duration of the defendant’s present commitment to FMC, coupled with the extensive attention and care he is now receiving because of his mental condition, would make videotaping all clinical assessments a substantial imposition on the work of the FMC staff,” the three-page decision states. “This difficulty is partially illustrated by the defendant’s conception of a ‘clinical assessment,’ which defense counsel define as ‘interactions by clinical staff at Springfield with Mr. Loughner that relate to discussions of medication, competence, restoration, clinical symptoms, and current functioning.’ Such a broad, catch-all definition will invariably invite an interaction-by-interaction analysis as to whether videotaping is necessary, and it is not fair to burden the FMC staff with that analysis.”