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A federal appeals court will hear arguments Tuesday over a request to permanently ban prison officials from forcibly medicating the Tucson shooting rampage suspect with psychotropic drugs.

At issue in Jared Lee Loughner's appeal before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal is whether prison officials or a judge should decide whether a mentally ill person who poses a danger in prison should be forcibly medicated.

Prosecutors say the decision is for prison officials to make, while Loughner's lawyers say it's up to a judge.

Loughner has pleaded not guilty to 49 charges in the Jan. 8 shooting that killed six people and wounded 13 others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

He has been at a federal prison facility in Springfield, Mo., since late May after mental health experts determined he suffers from schizophrenia and a judge ruled him mentally unfit to stand trial. He was sent to the facility in a bid to restore his mental competency so he can assist in his legal defense.

Loughner was forcibly medicated from June 21 to July 1 after prison doctors concluded that he was a danger. His attorneys appealed U.S. District Judge Larry Burns' ruling that said Loughner could be forcibly medicated in prison.



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