Vanderbilt Law Review
This paper explores the legal problems that arise when the government undertakes to render a criminal defendant competent to stand trial, by administering involuntary psychotropic medications. Among these problems are the infringement of the defendant's trial rights, such as the right to receive assistance of counsel and to confront witnesses, as well as interference with the defendant's ability to testify and to present evidence of a mental illness. This paper explores these problems with special reference to the case of Russell Weston, who has been charged with murder in the deaths of two Capitol police officers and who spent more than three years in a federal correctional facility while the District of Columbia federal courts decided whether the government could administer involuntary medications for the purpose of rendering him competent to stand trial. The paper concludes that because the unfair prejudice resulting from involuntary medications cannot be cured, the government should be prohibited from administering involuntary medications to a defendant during trial.
Dora W. Klein, Trial Rights and Psychotropic Drugs: The Case Against Administering Involuntary Medications to a Defendant During Trial, 55 Vand. L. Rev. 165 (2002).