Monday, July 18, 2011

Loughner lawyers want clinical assessments taped

Attorneys for the Tucson shooting rampage suspect want all clinical assessments psychiatrists performed on him videotaped while he's at a federal prison medical facility in Missouri.

Jared Lee Loughner's lawyers filed the request Friday in U.S. District Court in Tucson.

In another development, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals scheduled an Aug. 30 hearing in San Francisco on an appeal by Loughner's attorneys over forced medication.

Loughner's attorneys said the videos have "likely evidentiary value" and they want to safeguard his constitutional rights. They also want to see copies of all videos immediately.

Loughner has been at the Springfield, Mo., facility since May 27 after a federal judge concluded he was mentally unfit to help in his legal defense.

The 22-year-old has pleaded not guilty to 49 charges in the Jan. 8 rampage that killed six and wounded 13, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Mental health experts have determined Loughner suffers from schizophrenia and will try to make him psychologically fit to stand trial. He will spend up to four months at the Missouri facility.

Friday's filing by lead Loughner attorney Judy Clarke said the "videotaping is for the protection of the defendant subject to commitment and restoration efforts by the government" and the defense team wanted copies of all videos.

If Loughner is later determined to be competent enough for trial, the court proceedings will resume. If he isn't deemed competent at the end of his treatment, Loughner's stay at the facility can be extended.

Loughner's lawyers haven't said whether they intend to present an insanity defense, but they have noted in court filings that his mental condition will likely be a central issue at trial.

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that prison officials can't resume their forcible medication of psychotropic drugs for Loughner.

The ruling kept in place an earlier order that temporarily stopped the involuntary medication of Loughner. The order will remain in effect until the court rules on an appeal by Loughner's attorneys over the larger issue of forced medication.

The appeals court ruled that Loughner's interest in not suffering the risk of side effects from powerful drugs is stronger than the government's interest in protecting Loughner and those around him in prison. But it noted that authorities can take steps to maintain the safety of prison officials, other inmates or Loughner, including forcibly giving him tranquilizers.

Loughner was forcibly medicated between June 21 and July 1 at the Springfield facility after prison officials determined his outbursts there posed a danger to others. He was given twice daily doses of Risperidone, a drug used for people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and severe behavior problems.

By The Associated Press

Source: Google News

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