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United States v. Garcia-Mendez

United States District Court, D. Arizona

November 19, 2019

United States of America, Plaintiff,
v.
Isaac Garcia-Mendez, Defendant.

          ORDER

          G. Murray Snow Chief United States District Judge

         Pending before the Court is the Government's motion to involuntarily medicate Defendant Isaac Garcia-Mendez (Doc. 44) pursuant to Sell v. United States, 539 U.S. 166 (2003). After reviewing the Parties pleadings and conducting an evidentiary hearing, the Court grants the Government's motion for the reasons discussed below.

         BACKGROUND

         Defendant Isaac Garcia Mendez (“Defendant”) has been charged with illegal reentry into the United States in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1326(a) and (b). On November 8, 2018, the Court found that Defendant was not competent to stand trial and ordered him into the custody of the Attorney General. Defendant was later transported to the Federal Medical Center (“FMC”) in Springfield, Missouri for evaluation and restoration.

         Defendant was evaluated by the FMC staff between January 20, 2019 and May 31, 2019. The FMC doctors evaluated whether Defendant may be subject to involuntary medication under either Washington v. Harper, 494 U.S. 210 (1990) or Sell v. United States, 539 U.S. 166 (2003). Under Harper involuntary medication is permitted in limited circumstances for inmates who are (1) gravely disabled or (2) represent a significant danger to themselves or others in the context of a prison. In the opinion of the FMC Springfield doctors, involuntary medication pursuant to Harper is not appropriate because Defendant is neither gravely disabled nor an imminent risk of danger to himself or others in a correctional environment. The FMC staff further determined, however, that with proper medication and monitoring it is substantially likely that Defendant will be restored to competency. Thus, the Government moved for an order providing that Defendant be involuntarily medicated pursuant to Sell. The Court ordered a Sell hearing that was held on November 14, 2019. The Government's experts, Dr. Ashley K. Christiansen and Dr. Robert G. Sarrazin, testified at the hearing.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Applicable Law

         In Sell the Supreme Court recognized that “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 treatment is medically appropriate.” Sell, 539 U.S. at 180. Sell sets forth the conditions under which a court may allow involuntary administration of medications to restore a defendant to competency. The conditions are as follows:

(1) there must be “important governmental issues at stake”;
(2) the administration of the medication must be substantially likely to render the defendant competent to stand trial and substantially unlikely to have side effects that will interfere significantly with the defendant's ability to assist counsel in conducting a trial defense;
(3) the medication must be necessary to further those interests; and
(4) the administration of the medication must be medically appropriate.

Id. at 180-81. The Government must establish each factor by clear and convincing evidence. United States v. Ruiz-Gaxiola, 623 F.3d 684, 693 (9th Cir. 2010).

         II. ...


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