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The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has temporarily blocked Jared Loughner's forced medication. Loughner's incompetency had landed him in a federal facility, where forcible medication had begun on June 22.
Loughner stands accused of 49 felony counts from the Tucson shootings that killed six people. U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords was also seriously injured in the shootings, along with a dozen others.
The 9th Circuit's order is a temporary stay of involuntary medication until the hearing over the forcible medication issue is over, and the court has made its decision.
Loughner, 22, had been forcibly medicated because he was considered a danger to other inmates, reports The Wall Street Journal. Officials cited instances where Loughner spit on his own attorney and instances where Loughner threw plastic chairs.
Loughner's defense attorneys claim that officials are not medicating Loughner because he is a danger to others, but because they want to restore him to competency so he can stand trial for the Tucson shootings, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The rules for medicating a defendant to restore him to competency and medicating a defendant who is a danger to others are different. If a defendant is a danger to others, the only procedural requirements is an administrative hearing where the prisoner is assigned a "staff representative" and not an attorney. This is the type of hearing that Loughner had before he was forcibly medicated.
Loughner's defense believes that prison officials are trying to sidestep the higher procedural protections afforded to Loughner by declaring he is a danger to other prisoners, when there isn't that much evidence that supports that fact.
The 9th Circuit may make its ruling soon, as it has asked the defense and prosecution to make their arguments within the week. And, it also cited a recent 9th Circuit case where the court set high standards for involuntary medication of prisoners, reports the Los Angeles Times.
While Jared Loughner's forced medication is temporarily blocked, Loughner's incompetency will also continue to delay his trial until he is deemed competent.
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