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United States v. Brooks

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division

October 9, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
JOSEPH HARVEY BROOKS, Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

ANCER L. HAGGERTY, District Judge.

On May 30, 2014, the Ninth Circuit's Judgment in this case took effect, vacating the district court's order authorizing involuntmy medication to render defendant Joseph Harvey Brooks competent to stand trial. The Ninth Circuit remanded the case so that this court could conduct another inquiry pursuant to Sell v. United States, 539 U.S. 166 (2003). This court conducted the second hearing in this matter on August 6, 2014. For the following reasons, this court continues defendant's previous commitment for treatment (15), grants the government's request for authorization to medicate defendant involuntarily as specified herein, and directs the United States Marshal to transport defendant to the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners (FMC) in Springfield, Missouri at the earliest opportunity.

BACKGROUND

The Ninth Circuit's opinion in this case explains the history of this matter in detail; therefore, this court will merely summarize those facts. See United States v. Brooks, 750 F.3d 1090 (9th Cir. 2014). Defendant Brooks has a lengthy history of mental health issues, including paranoid schizophrenia. In the current case, the government alleges that, on August 24, 2004, defendant attempted to set fire to cables connecting a radio antenna on the roof of Oregon Health Sciences University. Brooks was indicted in 2011, but found incompetent to stand trial. He was admitted into the FMC in Springfield, Missouri on December 16, 2011.

On March 5, 2012, a hearing pursuant to 28 C.F.R. ยง 549.43, also called a Harper hearing, was held to determine if defendant posed a danger to himself or others, such that the involuntary administration of antipsychotic medication was warranted. See Washington v. Harper, 494 U.S. 210 (1990). The conclusion was that defendant did not meet the Harper criteria.

Next, the government requested a court order to medicate defendant to restore competency for trial, pursuant to Sell. On August 7, 2012, this court held a Sell hearing in which Dr. Robert Sanazin opined that defendant suffered from schizophrenia; it was substantially likely that defendant would be restored to competency with antipsychotic medication; and that medication was the necessary treatment to restore competency. Based on this testimony, the court found that each of the Sell requirements had been met and granted the government's motion for authorization to medicate defendant involuntarily.

Defendant appealed the court's order. On May 7, 2014, the Ninth Circuit issued an opinion, which held that a remand was necessary so that specific time limitations may be added to the order authorizing involuntary medication and so that the district court could conduct a new Sell inquiry due to the amount of time that had lapsed. The Ninth Circuit provided additional guidance concerning the procedures to be followed on remand.

On August 6, 2014, this court held a second hearing on the government's request for authorization to medicate defendant involuntarily in order to restore him to competency for trial. The court heard the testimony of Dr. Robert Sarrazin, M.D., Chief of Psychiatry at the FMC in Springfield, Missouri and Dr. Lea Ann Preston Braecht, Ph.D. The court also heard statements from defendant, defense counsel, and the government.

STANDARDS

"[A]n individual has a significant constitutionally protected liberty interest in avoiding the unwanted administration of antipsychotic drugs." Sell, 539 U.S. at 178 (citation and internal quotations omitted). However, "the Constitution permits the Government involuntarily to administer antipsychotic drugs to a mentally ill defendant facing serious criminal charges in order to render that defendant competent to stand trial, " but only if the court determines that four conditions are met. Id. at 179. These conditions, which have come to be known as the Sell factors, are:

(2) "that important governmental interests are at stake" in prosecuting the defendant for the charged offense;
(2) "that involuntary medication will significantly further those concomitant state interests, " i.e., it is substantially likely to restore the defendant to competency and substantially unlikely to cause side effects that would impair significantly his ability to assist in his defense at trial;
(3) "that involuntary medication is necessary to further those interests, " i.e., there are no less intrusive treatments that are likely to achieve substantially the same results; and
(4) "that administration of the drugs is medically appropriate, i.e., in the patient's best medical interest in ...

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