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Landmark Cases

Case Name: U.S. v.SELL,SELL v. U.S.,

Date, Location, Cite: 2003 Michigan
282 F.3d 560; 539 U.S. 166/ 2003 WL 21372478 (U.S.)

Dr. Sell, a dentist, was charged with making false claims to Medicaid and private insurance companies for dental services that had not been provided. Subsequently, he was also charged with attempting murder x2. In 1999, Sell was found IST and hospitalized at the Fed Med in Springfield, Missouri. He was diagnosed with delusions but refused medication. A federal magistrate approved the involuntary administration of medication, and the decision was upheld by both a medical center administrative review and the district court.

In March 2002, a divided panel of the court of appeals affirmed the district courtís judgment. The circuit court concluded that Sell could be medicated involuntarily.

The Supremes chose to restate it in more detail:


To involuntarily medicate a defendant to restore competency to stand trial:

(1)must present an essential state interest that outweighs the individualís interest in remaining free from medication;

(2) must prove that there is no less intrusive way of doing this and

(3) the government must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the Medication is medically appropriate by showing that:


(a)  it is likely to render the patient competent;

(b)  the likelihood and gravity of side effects do not overwhelm itsbenefits;

(c)   it is in the best medical interests of the patient