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State v. Lopes

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 03-20-2014
Case #: S061395
Walters, J. for the Court; En Banc.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/S061395.pdf

Remedies: Trial courts have the authority to order hospitals to involuntarily medicate defendants for the purpose of restoring trial competency so long as the order complies with due process.

Lopes filed a petition for writ of mandamus from an order by the Multnomah County Courthouse. Lopes was charged with attempted sex abuse in the first degree. The trial court doubted his capacity to stand trial and committed him to the Oregon State Hospital (“Hospital”). Lopes was deemed unable to assist in his defense. Lopes refused to take antipsychotic medication, without which there was no likelihood that he would regain competency. Under Hospital’s administrative rules, it could not involuntarily administer antipsychotic medication without a court order. The trial court issued such an order. The Supreme Court held that Oregon courts do have authority to issue orders authorizing hospitals to involuntarily medicate defendants for the purpose of restoring trial competency so long as those orders comport with federal due process. ORS 161.370 permits trial courts to commit defendants who are unable to aid and assist in their defenses to a state hospital which must then provide such defendants with treatment that is designed for the purpose of “enabling the defendant to gain or regain capacity.” Trial courts therefore must have the power to issue orders for involuntary medication when necessary, so long as it complies with statutory and constitutional requirements. Here, the order did not comply with due process because the trial court did not find by clear and convincing evidence that important government interests were at stake. Lopes had already been incarcerated for a period of time at least as long as any sentence he could have received upon conviction. The government's interest in prosecuting him was therefore diminished and involuntary medication was not warranted.