The Oregon Supreme Court ruled March 20 that judges can order mentally defendants to take anti-psychotic medication so that they will be fit to stand trial under certain circumstances. This is in line with a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that lays out specific criteria for forcibly medicating a defendant: the drugs must be deemed in the defendant’s best interest and unlikely to cause side effects that could impede the defendant from assisting in his or her own defense. The government must have an interest in bringing the defendant to trial and must show that this is unattainable by alternative means.
Oregon’s state constitution does not specifically address this issue, which is why it came before the state supreme court.
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- Tung Yin: Professor at Lewis & Clark Law School