Unlimited Forced Drugging OK'd By Court; Physician Group Calls
Ruling 'Shocking & Inhumane'
WASHINGTON, March 8, 2002 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Defendants can be
forcibly drugged even though they haven't been convicted of any
charges and pose no danger to themselves or others. That's the
ruling issued yesterday by the Federal Court of Appeals for the
Eighth Circuit in the case of United States vs. Charles Thomas
Sell. (see http://www.ca8.uscourts.gov/opndir/02/03/011862P.pdf)
The 2-1 split decision establishes government power to forcibly
medicate a person with mind-altering drugs even before trial.
"It's a shocking, inhumane decision. Now, all the government
needs are allegations and a cooperative psychiatrist to forcibly
drug any citizen," said Andrew Schlafly, general counsel for the
Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS). That group
filed an amicus brief opposing the government drugging.
"It's unprecedented to allow prosecutors to drug peaceful
defendants presumed to be innocent. Government cannot force
citizens to pledge allegiance to the flag, but now can forcibly
medicate them with mind-altering drugs," said Schlafly.
Dr. Sell, a St. Louis dentist, has been imprisoned for more than
4 years, including 1-1/2-half years in solitary confinement after
being charged with Medicaid fraud. He has never been brought to
While acknowledging that "the evidence does not support a
finding that Sell posed a danger to himself or others" the majority
opinion still found that "charges of fraud" alone are
enough to justify forced medication. Further, the Court held that
there are no limits on the quantity or type of drugs.
"There's no good reason why Dr. Sell has been held so long
without trial, and this decision will most likely prolong his
imprisonment with no end in sight," said Schlafly. The dissenting
judge pointed out that even if Dr. Sell were to be found guilty,
his sentence would be no more than 41 months -- one year less than
he's already served.
A similar case is pending before the same court to allow the
state to forcibly medicate a convicted murderer for execution.
"It's appalling that the court will drug a man presumed to be
innocent, even if it's illegal to do the same thing to a convicted
killer," Schlafly said. He said that AAPS will seek to overturn the
AAPS is a non-partisan, dues-supported professional association
of physicians in all practices and specialties, dedicated since
1943 to protecting the sanctity of the patient-physician
relationship from third-party interference.
For more information on Dr. Sell's case, see
click on "Court Okays Forced
Contact: Kathryn Serkes, 202-333-3855, for AAPS,
or Andrew Schlafly, Esq., email@example.com