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Friday, April 23, 2010

Fourth Circuit holds forced medication not appealable after guilty plea.

by Kirsten E. Small

It was a quiet week in the Fourth Circuit--by my count, there were only two published decisions, and only one of them is particularly notable.

That "one" is United States v. Bowles. Bowles was charged on drug and weapons charges but found incompetent and committed for treatment. After four years of treatment for paranoid delusions, the district court granted the government's motion to forcibly medicate Bowles in order to render him competent to stand trial.

Bowles pleaded guilty, then sought to have his conviction vacated on the basis that the forcible medication was improper. The Fourth Circuit today dismissed the appeal, holding that forced medication is a "nonjurisdictional defect" that is waived by a guilty plea. The Court noted that Bowles could have obtained review of the medication order through an interlocutory appeal.

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