Court OKs forced drugging

Court OKs forced drugging

By Joe Baker

By Joe Baker

Senior Editor

A federal appeals court, in a decision earlier this month, has ruled that a dentist held on Medicaid fraud charges can be drugged against his will in order to make him competent to stand trial.

The U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, ruled 2-1 on March 7 that lower courts were right in determining a St. Louis-area dentist, Charles Sell, was not competent to stand trial and should be forced to take anti-psychotic drugs to “restore” competency. The court said that is the only way it could constitutionally bring Sell to trial.

Sell and his wife were arrested in 1997 on 56 counts of mail fraud, six counts of Medicaid fraud and one count of money laundering. Charges of conspiring to kill an FBI agent and a witness against him have been placed against Sell since that time.

Sell had been freed on bond but was arrested in January after officials said he violated conditions of his release. The court said when Sell was brought before a federal district judge, he “screamed, shouted and used racial ephitets” in the courtroom. When the judge tried to proceed with the hearing, the appeals court said, “Sell leaned towards her and spit directly in her face.”

Despite that, a doctors’ group has filed a brief on Sells’ behalf, terming the court’s decision shocking and inhumane. World Net Daily quoted Andrew Schlafly, general counsel for the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons: “All the government needs are allegations and a cooperative psychiatrist to forcibly drug any citizen. It’s a shocking, inhumane decision.”

A similar case is pending before the same court seeking to allow the state to forcibly drug a convicted murderer for execution. “It’s appalling,” said Schlafly, “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. It’s unprecedented to allow prosecutors to drug peaceful defendants presumed to be innocent.”

One judge disagreed with the ruling, commenting that the charges against Sell aren’t serious enough to warrant forcibly injecting him with anti-psychotic 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,” Schlafly said.

Judge Kermit Bye noted even if Sell is found guilty, his sentence would not exceed 41 months—one year less than he has already served.

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