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Lawyers oppose order to forcibly medicate Loughner

By the CNN Wire Staff
Jared Lee Loughner is charged in a mass shooting that killed six and injured 13, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
Jared Lee Loughner is charged in a mass shooting that killed six and injured 13, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
  • Forcing Loughner to take powerful drugs violates his rights, lawyers say
  • A judge orders the government to respond by Tuesday
  • Loughner was sent to a prisoner medical center to try to restore his mental competency

(CNN) -- A federal judge ordered the government to respond by Tuesday to a legal challenge against a decision to forcibly medicate Arizona shooting suspect Jared Lee Loughner in a federal prison.

In the order dated Monday, U.S. District Judge Larry Alan Burns said the government must answer the emergency motion by lawyers representing Loughner that contends forcing him to take mind-altering psychotropic drugs against his will violates his rights.

The lawyers conceded in their motion that they were uncertain if officials at the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri, where Loughner was transferred in late May to try to restore his mental competency, had started administering the drugs.

However, they said prison officials held a deficient hearing process and used faulty reasoning in deciding to drug Loughner against his will.

Loughner unfit to stand trial
Gupta: Giffords' release 'a good sign'

For example, Loughner had no attorney present at the June 14 hearing, the lawyers said in their motion, and officials failed to state the drug and dosage he should receive.

Loughner, 22, is charged in the mass shooting last January in which six people were killed and 13 wounded, including Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, in front of a Safeway grocery story in Tucson, Arizona. A federal judge ruled last month that Loughner was not competent to stand trial, and he then was sent to the Springfield prison.

According to the emergency motion, authorities had earlier assessed Loughner as dangerous because of incidents before his transfer to the Springfield prison: He threw a chair against a door and spit at an attorney.

However, the reasoning by prison officials in Springfield for deciding to administer the drugs was to treat Loughner's mental illness, rather than to subdue any dangerous behavior, the motion noted.

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