USA TODAY US Edition
Loughner’s lawyers challenge mental exam order
Object to transfer, sharing results with government
Attorneys for Jared Loughner, the Tucson college dropout charged with killing six people and attempting to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, challenged a judge’s order sending Loughner to a Missouri prison for a mental health evaluation.
Defense attorney Judy Clarke, in a motion Wednesday to halt Loughner’s transfer to the prison medical facility, called the judge’s requirement that the evaluation be videotaped and shared with the government an “unprecedented” infringement of Loughner’s Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights.
“Confidential material to which the government has no right would be revealed to the prosecution,” the attorneys wrote. “These are bells that cannot be unrung.”
Washington & Lee Law School professor David Bruck called the judge’s order to share the videotaped evaluation with the government “truly something I’ve never seen before. To say it’s unusual is putting it mildly. It’s not hard to understand why the defense attorneys have asked him to reconsider this.”
Loughner was flown Wednesday from Tucson to the federal facility in Springfield, Mo., the Associated Press reported. His lawyers asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for him to be returned.
The defense attorneys, who can have another psychologist evaluate Loughner at the prison, would have to share the findings with the prosecution. The defense feared it could be used to make a case for sentencing Loughner to death. Clarke also said transferring Loughner for 30 days to Missouri will interfere with his access to his defense attorneys, who are based in San Diego.
U.S. District Judge Larry Burns on Monday or- dered psychologists at the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners to evaluate Loughner by April 29. The evaluation is limited to Loughner’s current mental state, not his condition at the time of the crime.
The judge will hold a hearing May 25 to determine Loughner’s competency to stand trial on 49 charges, including the murders of U.S. District Judge John Roll and Giffords aide Gabe Zimmerman, and the attempted assassination of two of Giffords’ congressional aides, at a Tucson supermarket on Jan. 8. Loughner has pleaded not guilty.
Giffords is recovering at a Houston rehabilitation hospital from a gunshot wound to her head.
The medical referral center in Springfield has five board-certified forensic psychologists and a neuropsychologist on staff, center spokeswoman Wendy Montgomery said.