Tuesday, August 9, 2011

APA Files Amicus Brief in Tucson Shooting Case

To ensure that courts have input from psychiatrists on mental-illness issues, APA and the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law (AAPL) have filed an amicus brief in the case of Jared Lee Loughner, accused of killing six people and wounding 13 including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords at a Tucson shopping center in January. The brief argues that based on previous court rulings, the government has the right to order the administration of involuntary medication to a pre-trial detainee who poses a danger to himself or others without requiring a judicial hearing. Former APA and AAPL president Paul Appelbaum, M.D., chair of APA's Committee on Judicial Action, said "psychiatrists working in correctional facilities need the flexibility to deal with dangerous persons without the delay involved in lengthy court proceedings." The brief addresses issues in managing violent patients and the use of antipsychotic medications. Loughner's defense team has insisted that a judicial hearing is required before he can be involuntarily medicated.

Read more about the issues in this case in Psychiatric News at http://pn.psychiatryonline.org/content/46/3/1.1.full. For an in-depth review of issues regarding psychiatry and the law, see American Psychiatric Publishing's Textbook of Forensic Psychiatry at http://www.appi.org/SearchCenter/Pages/SearchDetail.aspx?ItemId=62378.

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