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Loughner lawyers want competency exams videotaped

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Loughner lawyers want competency exams videotaped

  • Loughner, in January.
    U.S. Marshals ServiceLoughner, in January.

Attorneys for Jared Loughner, the accused Jan. 8 shooter, asked that all clinical assessments performed on him videotaped.

Judy Clarke, Loughner's lead attorney, asked U.S. District Judge Larry Burns to order that the government videotape the assessments psychiatrists perform on Loughner as they determine whether he has returned to competency.

Clarke asked that the videotapes be turned over only to the defense.

Loughner was sent to a federal prison medical facility in Springfield, Mo., in May after Burns determined that he was unable to understand the charges against him and participate in his own defense.

"Like the competency evaluation, the restoration commitment and restorability determination are critical proceedings at which defendant has the right to counsel," Clarke wrote in the motion.:

In order to safeguard Mr. Loughner’s Sixth Amendment rights, as well as to create a full and reliable record of the basis of the restorability evaluator’s opinion, counsel requests that provision be made for all clinical assessments of Mr. Loughner’s restorability under § 4241(d) be videotaped, that the videotape be secured, and be disclosed only to defense counsel.

Videotaping is for the protection of the defendant subject to commitment and restoration efforts by the government. It is not a tool for use by the government in seeking a capital conviction and sentence of death. The ABA Standards governing mental health issues in criminal cases make this clear in the context of the compelled competency examination.

6 killed, 13 wounded

Loughner, 22, is accused of killing six, including a nine-year-old girl, and shooting U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in the head in what authorities charge was an assassination attempt.

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.

He was found incompetent to stand trial in May, and was sent to a federal facility in Missouri for treatment to restore his ability to understand the charges against him and participate in his defense.

Government doctors diagnosed Loughner as schizophrenic, saying he suffers from hallucinations, paranoid delusions and irrational thoughts.

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that prison officials can't force Loughner to take psychotropic drugs until the court hears further arguments. The competency exams were done to determine Loughner's current mental state; neither the doctors' reports nor the hearing addressed his sanity at the time of the shooting.

The ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals maintains an earlier order that temporarily halted the forced medication of Loughner.

The court said that because Loughner has not been convicted, he is entitled to greater constitutional protections than a convicted inmate. The order, by a three-judge panel, rejected claims by the government that Loughner is a danger to himself.

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.

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