No advance notice of meds for Loughner lawyers
Attorneys for accused Jan. 8 shooter Jared Loughner won't get advance notice if anti-psychotic medications are given to him, a federal judge ruled.
In a one-sentence motion, Loughner's defense lawyers asked the court Tuesday to order that they be informed before he is given anti-psychotic drugs.
The motion was denied by U.S. District Judge Larry Burns in an order on Thursday.
Burns pointed out that no order has been issued allowing the forcible medication of Loughner.
The judge told the defense team to file a more lengthy explanation if they want to assert "a right to contest any unforced treatment regimen."
Loughner was sent to a medical facility for federal prisoners in Missouri after he was found incompetent to stand trial last week.
Doctors there are expected to treat what a government psychiatrist and psychologist diagnosed as schizophrenia in an attempt to restore Loughner's ability to understand the charges against him and assist in his defense.
Loughner can receive medication, counseling and other treatments as doctors try to restore his competency.
"We believe he can be restored to competency with proper medication," said Robbie Sherwood, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office, after last week's hearing.
If Loughner does not cooperate with treatment, the court could order that he be given medication by force.
A hearing was scheduled for Sept. 10 to review progress in restoring him to competency, with a report to be filed with the court Aug. 31. There is a chance the hearing may not be held if Loughner is found to still be incompetent.
The incompetency finding doesn't mean that Loughner won't face trial. If he is still unable to be tried after four months, he could be held, undergoing treatment, for as long as the potential jail terms he faces: life.
Most defendants are restored to competency after receiving treatment.
49 federal charges
Loughner is accused of killing six and shooting U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in the head in what authorities charge was an assassination attempt.
Among those killed were a nine-year-old girl and Arizona's presiding federal judge.
He also is charged with wounding 12 others at the "Congress On Your Corner" meet and greet with constituents at a Northwest Side grocery store on the morning of Jan. 8.
In March, Loughner was charged with 49 federal counts in the attack. Not guilty pleas were entered on his behalf by the court.
Fourteen of the charges Loughner faces could result in the death penalty, if the prosecution seeks it. No decision of whether to ask for capital punishment has been made, authorities have said.
Loughner likely will face local charges in the shooting incident, authorities have said, but only after the federal case is resolved.
Giffords is back in a Houston rehab facility following an operation to replace part of her skull last month.
Doctors replaced part of the congresswoman's skull with a synthetic plate in a 3.5 hour operation. A portion of Giffords' skull was removed to allow her brain to swell without causing damage after she was shot through the left side of her brain at a constituent event.
"She's doing fine, great," said Giffords' spokesman, C.J. Karamargin after Giffords returned to the rehab facility.
Giffords had remained in the hospital where the surgery was performed until doctors were sure there were no signs of infection, Karamargin said.
Giffords was also given a permanent internal shunt, to drain excess cerebrospinal fluid, during the operation.
The surgery came as Giffords' husband, Capt. Mark Kelly, was in space commanding the shuttle Endeavour.
Giffords, who watched Kelly blast off at the Kennedy Space Center, made two trips to Florida to see the shuttle lift off after the original launch was scrubbed by NASA.
Giffords will continue her rehab in Houston once she is released from The Institute for Research and Rehabilitation (TIRR) Memorial Hermann, her husband said last week in an interview from Endeavour.
Kelly returned to Earth on Wednesday.
Giffords will turn 41 on June 8, five months after she was shot.
Doctors don't know when Giffords can be released from the hospital, or when she might be able to return to Congress, they said.
"Your guess is as good as mine," said Dr. Dong Kim, a neurosurgeon who has been treating the congresswoman, at a press conference after the operation.
"We can't predict how much progress she'll make. We can't predict when she'll return to work," Kim said.
Giffords is "recovering very nicely," said Dr. Gerard Francisco, who has been managing her rehab.
Her cognition has "improved very significantly," he said, noting that "we're having meaningful, fun conversation—she's cracked me up."
"It's difficult at this juncture to make any guesses about when she'll go back to work," he said.
While doctors said they have a tentative schedule for Giffords' rehab and release, they declined to give specifics about dates.