CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, March 1, 2010

Shannon on Sell v. United States

Shannon brian Brian D. Shannon (Texas Tech University School of Law) has posted Prescribing a Balance: The Texas Legislative Responses to Sell v. United States (St. Mary's Law Journal, Forthcoming) on SSRN. Here is the abstract.

In Sell v. United States, decided in 2003, the United States Supreme Court addressed the question of “whether the Constitution permits the Government to administer antipsychotic drugs involuntarily to a mentally ill criminal defendant – in order to render that defendant competent to stand trial for serious, but nonviolent crimes.” The Court concluded that the Constitution does permit doing so “in limited circumstances … upon satisfaction of conditions” that the Court delineated. This Article will first address the Court’s parameters for determining when the administration of antipsychotic medications on an involuntary basis is permissible. The remainder of the Article, however, will discuss the various approaches taken by the Texas Legislature to codify certain hearing mechanisms to address the thorny issues raised by Sell. Specifically, after briefly addressing Sell, this Article will analyze an array of Texas legislative enactments from 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2009, all of which have addressed the issue of a defendant’s refusal to take antipsychotic medication after having been adjudicated incompetent to stand trial, but prior to the criminal trial on the merits.

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