Jared Loughner faces court hearing over forced drugging
A federal judge is today scheduled to consider whether to commit Tucson shooting suspect Jared Lee Loughner to an additional four months of forced treatment for schizophrenia in a bid to restore his mental competency to stand trial.
Loughner's attorneys have opposed the involuntary medication regimen ordered by U.S. District Judge Larry A. Burns and were expected to reiterate their arguments during today's hearing in San Diego. They argue that the government doesn't have the right to force what they say are dangerous anti-psychotic drugs on a pre-trial detainee who hasn't been convicted of any crime.
Burns indicated last week, however, that he was inclined to authorize a third period of commitment as doctors treating the 23-year-old suspect at a prison hospital in Missouri report that he has made substantial progress toward being fit to face trial on 49 felony counts that could lead to a death penalty.
Loughner is accused of carrying out the Jan. 8, 2011, rampage outside a Tucson supermarket that killed six and injured 13 others, including Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
The Democrat left her House seat last month to devote herself to her recovery from a gunshot wound to the head.
Loughner was declared incompetent to stand trial in May, following an initial evaluation term at the federal prison hospital in Springfield, Mo.
-- Carol J. Williams
Photo: Jared Lee Loughner on Feb. 22, 2011. Credit: U.S. Marshals Service / Associated Press