Weston Attorney Wants Forced Medication Halted

Posted February 6, 2004 at 5:59pm

The federal public defender representing alleged Capitol Police shooter Russell Weston Jr. filed a motion Wednesday seeking an end to the court order that has forced his client to take anti-psychotic medication for more than two years.

Public defender A.J. Kramer is requesting U.S. District Judge Emmett Sullivan deny a six-month extension being sought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office that would require Weston to continue on medication until May. Sullivan will conduct a hearing on the motion Tuesday, at which time he could call an end to the medication.

If Sullivan sides with the defense, it is possible Weston would be found incompetent to stand trial and instead would be committed to a hospital facility.

Weston, a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, is charged in the July 1998 shootings that killed Capitol Police Officer Jacob Chestnut and Detective John Gibson.

Although Weston has been forcibly medicated since January 2002, Kramer argues that Weston’s mental state has not significantly improved during the past two years. U.S. attorneys won the initial court order following an April 1999 hearing in which Weston was declared incompetent to stand trial.

“While his day-to-day functioning may have improved, his ability to understand his legal situation and assist his lawyer has remained unchanged since 1998,” Kramer wrote in the Feb. 3 motion. “The time frames for restoration keep changing. The only constant is that Mr. Weston’s delusions have not been diminished.”

In interviews with Sally Johnson, a psychiatrist who monitors Weston, the accused has said that he is a law enforcement official and that staff at the Federal Correction Institute in Butner, N.C. — where he now resides — are escaped federal prisoners. Additionally, court documents state, Weston has claimed to be a graduate of Harvard University and dean of both its law and medical schools.

“Dr. Johnson concluded that Mr. Weston was not feigning the delusions,” Kramer wrote. “Not only is that very hard to do over time, but also Dr. Johnson knows him well, and the delusions are not the type that are feigned.” [IMGCAP(1)]

In earlier interviews, including one with a defense psychiatrist in 1999, Weston described a “ruby satellite system” located in the “great safe” of the Senate. He told the psychiatrist he was attempting to reach the satellite system in July 1998 to use it as a transporter and travel to a time when he is “no longer deceased.”

In the Feb. 3 motion, Kramer cites the 2003 Supreme Court decision in Sell v. United States, in which the majority outlined several conditions that must be met to forcibly medicate a defendant, such as a clear government interest in prosecuting a crime and lack of alternatives to forced medication.

“This court has never factored into its analysis that Mr. Weston’s refusal to take the medication would likely result in his confinement in an institution for the mentally ill for the rest of his life,” Kramer wrote. “It is over five-and-a-half years since the events that found the basis for the charges. This lapse in time will make it very difficult for Mr. Weston to obtain a fair trial, as his state of mind at the time of the events will likely be the major issue at trial.”

In order for Weston to be tried — he is charged with two counts of murder of a federal officer, one count of attempted murder of a federal officer and three counts of using a firearm during a violent crime — he would first need to be found competent to stand trial. The competency standard, Kramer explains, depends on “whether he understands the proceedings and whether he can adequately assist in his own defense.”

However, if Weston’s mental state does not improve through medication, he could eventually be involuntarily committed on a long-term basis to a secure hospital facility rather than a prison. In such a situation, he would not be found guilty of criminal responsibility for his alleged actions.