Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Guilty Plea Waives Ability to Appeal Forced Medication

US v. Bowles: Bowles was charged with multiple drug and firearm charges. After he requested a psychiatric evaluation, Bowles was diagnosed with multiple mental disorders and determined to be incompetent to stand trial. He was committed for the purpose of restoring his competency. After four years, the Government sought to have Bowles forcibly medicated. The district court so ordered. Bowles did not seek an interlocutory appeal of the medication order. The medication restored Bowles's competency, after which he pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. Bowles was sentenced to 188 months in prison.

Bowles appealed, seeking to challenge the district court's order that he be forcibly medicated to restore competency. The Fourth Circuit dismissed the appeal, holding that the issue had been waived by Bowles's guilty plea. A plea deprives the defendant of the ability to seek review on any non-jurisdictional ground, aside from the voluntariness of the plea itself. The proper means to challenge an order to forcibly medicate a defendant is via an interlocutory appeal.

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