United States District Court, D. Arizona
Murray Snow Chief United States District Judge
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.
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.
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
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
(1) there must be “important governmental issues at
(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
(4) the administration of the medication must be medically
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).