By Colleen Slevin, The Associated Press
A mentally ill man charged with killing three people in 2015 at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic because it offered abortion services will not be forcibly medicated as he appeals a federal judge’s order allowing the involuntary treatment.
Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Robert Blackburn ruled that involuntary medication was the only realistic approach with a substantial chance of making Robert Dear, 64, competent to stand trial and was also in the best interest of his overall health, both mental and physical.
Dear’s attorneys appealed the order to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and on Monday Blackburn ruled that Dear would not be involuntarily medicated while the appeal is considered, which could take several months. Federal prosecutors did not object to the order being put on hold, according to court records.
Dear’s federal public defenders challenged the involuntary medication order in part because it allows force to also be potentially used to get Dear to take medication or undergo monitoring for any potential side effects to his physical health.
Dear’s lawyers have argued that forcing Dear to be treated for his delusional disorder could aggravate conditions including untreated high blood pressure and high cholesterol. However, in the appeal, they say that Blackburn’s decision to give prison doctors the right to force treatment or monitoring for other ailments is “miles away” from the limited uses for forced medication allowed by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The appeal noted that the last forced medication order reviewed by the 10th Circuit took three months to resolve.
Dear’s prosecution has stalled, first in state court and then in federal court, because he has been repeatedly found mentally incompetent to stand trial since his arrest and he has refused to take medication.
During a three-day hearing this summer on whether he should be forcibly medicated, prosecutors argued that medication had a substantial likelihood, based on research and the experience of government experts, to make Dear well enough to meet the legal standard for mental competency — being able to understand proceedings and assist in his defense.