HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A mentally ill doctor should not be forced to take medicine in a bid to make him competent to stand trial for the killing of a Yale University physician, a public defender told Connecticut’s highest court on Thursday.
Assistant Public Defender Mark Rademacher told the state Supreme Court justices that the order to medicate Lishan Wang against his will violates a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court ruling restricting the involuntary medication of defendants.
Wang’s appeal also says forcing medication on him violates his constitutional rights to a fair trial and to mental and physical bodily integrity.
Prosecutor Nancy Walker said the ruling by New Haven Superior Court Judge Thomas O’Keefe Jr. in November does not violate Wang’s rights or the U.S. Supreme Court restrictions. She said his case is based on the sound medical advice of experts and is one of the rare instances where forced medication is allowed.
A decision by the state Supreme Court is expected in a few months. O’Keefe’s order is on hold pending the high court’s ruling.
Wang, a Chinese citizen from Beijing, is charged with murder in the 2010 fatal shooting of Dr. Vajinder Toor outside Toor’s home in Branford. He is also charged with attempted murder on allegations he shot at Toor’s pregnant wife, who wasn’t injured.
Authorities say the shooting appeared to stem from a 2008 workplace dispute Wang had with Toor and other doctors when they worked together at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center in New York City. Wang was fired from the medical center that year after a series of confrontations with Toor and other colleagues.
Rademacher said Wang has been diagnosed with delusional disorder and paranoia. Wang had been representing himself in the case until the judge ruled him incompetent last year. Wang is currently being held at Whiting Forensic Institute, the state’s only maximum-security psychiatric hospital. He has insisted that he is competent and doesn’t need medication.
“What is not in dispute is that Mr. Wang is mentally ill and he is not competent to stand trial,” Rademacher said. “He is otherwise a high-functioning individual.”
Rademacher said prosecutors did not prove by “clear and convincing evidence,” as required by the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision, that medication is likely to render Wang competent and unlikely to have side effects, such as shaking, that interfere with his ability to assist in his defense; that forced medication is necessary to further the state’s interests; and that forced medication is medically appropriate.
Rademacher said there have been conflicting diagnoses of Wang and that one doctor concluded there was a 50 to 70 percent chance that medication will restore Wang to competency.
“The state’s experts are all over the place on this,” he said.
Walker disputed that characterization, saying the medical experts who have testified in Wang’s case have been consistent in their appraisals of Wang’s symptoms.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut is monitoring Wang’s case.
“There are important rights at stake,” said Dan Barrett, the organization’s legal director. “Anyone who is accused of a crime, no matter how horrific the allegations, has the right to not be medicated in ways that could interfere with his ability to assist in his own defense.”
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