Forced Medication

AuthorMace J. Yampolsky
Forced Medication
Mace J. Yampolsky
Forced medication or Sell hearings are relatively rare. As such, there is not a
lot written about how to approach them. For a criminal defense lawyer, it is
not simply a matter opposing the prosecution’s position because your client
does not want to take his or her medication. Rather, the forcible administra-
tion of medication could have profound impact on trial strategy as well as
longer-term health consequences.
This chapter by Attorney Mace Yampolsky provides background on the
litigation surrounding forced medication as well as provides practical tips for
preparing for a hearing on forced medication.
• • •
The Beginnings of Forced Medication
It Started with Riggins
The Supreme Court case of Riggins v. Nevada1 was not just the most
famous case I have ever handled but it was also the most interesting. It was
the first murder case I ever tried, and a capital case at that. When the trial
court ruled that Mr. Riggins could not refuse his prescribed psychotropic
medication Mellaril, which is used to suppress psychotic behavior, I was
astonished. Mr. Riggins’s only defense was insanity. There was no ques-
tion that he killed the decedent. Aside from the effects of his medication,
1 504 U.S. 127 (1992).

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