July 23, 2011 / 4:25 PM / 8 years ago

Appeals court denies bid to halt medicating Loughner

TUCSON, Arizona (Reuters) - A federal appeals court has denied a motion to stop prison officials from giving accused Tucson shooter Jared Loughner anti-psychotic medication against his will.

Jared Lee Loughner the suspect in the attempted assassination of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, is shown in this Pima County Sheriff's Forensic Unit handout photograph released to Reuters on January 10, 2011. REUTERS/Pima County Sheriff's Forensic Unit/Handout

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals late Friday denied an emergency motion lodged by Loughner’s lawyers to enforce an injunction halting medication and to require medical staff to produce daily records on his condition.

In a filing lodged earlier Friday, prosecutors cited medical reports noting a deterioration in Loughner’s mental condition after medication ceased, which led to him being placed on suicide watch at a federal prison hospital in Missouri.

His attorney, Judy Clarke, had filed an emergency brief on Thursday after officials at the hospital in Springfield resumed forcibly medicating Loughner with psychotropic drugs on an “emergency basis.”

Clarke questioned whether the forced medication violated a previous ruling by the court on July 12 that Loughner should not have been forced to take anti-psychotic drugs against his will without a judge first ruling on his appeal of the issue.

Loughner was declared in May to be mentally incompetent to stand trial on charges he killed six people and wounded 13 others, including Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, in a January 8 shooting rampage in Tucson.

Prosecutors on Friday cited medical reports noting that Loughner had thoughts of harming himself, and warned that his “severe schizophrenia could worsen without immediate medical care.”

In a ruling earlier this month, the appeals court ordered that its stay should remain in effect until a hearing on the merits of Loughner’s appeal, and it ordered a such a hearing set for the week of August 29.

Described by his own lawyers as “gravely mentally ill,” Loughner has been undergoing psychiatric evaluation at the facility in Springfield to determine whether his ability to understand the court proceedings against him can be restored.

He pleaded not guilty in March to 49 charges stemming from the shooting at the “Congress on Your Corner” event, including multiple counts of first-degree murder.

Editing by Mary Wisniewski

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