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Tucson video feed for Tuesday's Loughner hearing

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Tucson video feed for Tuesday's Loughner hearing

  • Tucson's Evo A. DeConcini U.S. Courthouse, downtown.
    Sunfrog1/FlickrTucson's Evo A. DeConcini U.S. Courthouse, downtown.

Tucson's federal court will offer a remote viewing location for a Tuesday appeals court hearing on the continued involuntary medication of accused Jan. 8 shooter Jared Lee Loughner.

A live video feed of the hearing will be shown at the Evo A. DeConcini U.S. Courthouse, 405 W. Congress St. The hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m.; seating will be first-come, first-served.

Remote monitoring of the hearing will also be available at federal courthouses in Phoenix, San Diego, Seattle, Portland, Ore., and Pasadena, Calif.

Loughner's defense attorneys have asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to order federal prison officials to stop forcing Loughner to take psychotropic drugs, and to move him from the prison medical center where government doctors are working to restore his competency to stand trial.

Earlier this week, U.S. District Judge Larry Burns denied a defense request to hold a court hearing on whether Loughner should be involuntarily medicated.

Loughner, charged with killing six and wounding 13 others, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, on Jan. 8, should continue to be involuntarily medicated at the Springfield, Mo., federal prison hospital where doctors are working to restore his ability to stand trial, ruled U.S. District Judge Larry Burns.

Loughner faces 49 federal counts in the shooting, which took place at a "Congress On Your Corner" meet-and-greet with constituents. 14 of the charges could result in the death penalty.

Prison officials have been giving Loughner anti-psychotic and other medications against his will, after holding non-judicial hearings that determined he is a danger to himself.

Loughner's defense team has argued that forcing drugs on Loughner without a court hearing is a violation of Sell vs. United States, which requires a judge's ruling that a defendant be involuntarily medicated for the purposes of making him competent for trial.

Burns denied that move Tuesday, ruling that "Sell does not apply when, as here, the decision to involuntarily medicate a defendant is made by prison doctors to abate that defendant’s dangerousness."

Defense attorneys asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals last week to halt the forced medication.

Burns ruled Sept. 28 that Loughner must spend another four months in a federal prison hospital as doctors work to make him fit to stand trial.

"He understands that he's murdered people," a prison doctor testified, and no longer believes that U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was killed in the shooting rampage.

Loughner has refused to voluntarily take prescribed psychtropic drugs, but acquiesces and takes oral medication when informed that prison officials will otherwise forcibly inject the drugs. He was been taking the drugs for nine weeks, after prison officials were ordered by the court to stop for nearly three weeks in July.

Prison officials have determined in non-judicial hearings that Loughner is a danger to himself, and he remains on a suicide watch that was imposed July 8.

The drugs, including the anti-psychotic Risperidone, antidepressant Wellbutrin and sedative Lorazepam, have increased Loughner's functioning, testified prison psychologist Dr. Christina Pietz.

There is a "substantial probability" that Loughner will be restored to competence and be able to stand trial with more treatment, Burns ruled last month, after hearing testimony from a prison psychologist and an expert witness.

Burns determined in May that Loughner was not capable of cooperating with his lawyers or understanding the trial.

Giffords on the move

Giffords, still recovering from a Jan. 8 shot to the head, traveled to North Carolina on Sunday, where she will receive two weeks of specialized rehabilitation, her spokesman said Sunday.

The trip to Asheville, N.C., had been planned for several months, said Mark Kimble, describing her travel as "strictly rehabilitation-related." Giffords will see a therapist who has worked with her in Houston and "been extensively involved in the congresswoman’s therapy," he said.

The congresswoman has no scheduled public appearances or events and will give no interviews while on the trip, which will last until Nov. 4, he said.

While Giffords has not indicated whether she is running for reelection, her campaign has continued to raise and spend significant amounts of money.

The congresswoman, yet to speak in public after being shot in the head Jan. 8, will read the last chapter of her joint memoir with her husband, set for release next month.

Giffords will read the last chapter of "Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope," with husband Mark Kelly, a now-retired astronaut, reading the remainder of the book.

The audiobook is slated for release Nov. 15, the same day as the hardcover and digital copies of the book, which is being published by Scribner, an imprint of Simon and Schuster. The memoir was co-written by Jeffrey Zaslow.

The couple's story will be featured in an ABC News prime-time special the night before the book comes out. While the network had touted an on-camera interview with Giffords, her spokesman said last month that the congresswoman hadn't decided whether to appear on the television report.

Giffords has not given an interview since being shot in the head in what authorities charge was an assassination attempt on Jan. 8.

A Scribner's spokesman said last month that Giffords and Kelly have not scheduled any other interviews related to the book.

While undergoing rehabilitation in Houston after being shot through the brain, Giffords has made only a few public appearances, and traveled little.

She returned to Tucson over Labor Day weekend, seeing close friends and family and having dinner with staffers from University Medical Center.

She made two trips to Florida to see her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, command the space shuttle, and also visited Tucson in June.

Her most noteworthy, and public, appearance was to return to Congress on Aug. 1 to cast a vote on the debt ceiling.

She returned to Washington again in early October, for a ceremony marking Kelly's retirement from the Navy.

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