United States v. Leatherman

580 F. Supp. 977
Brief Filed: 11/83
Court: United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit
Year of Decision: 1984

Read the full-text amicus brief (PDF, 485KB)


Whether a prisoner found not guilty by reason of insanity and committed for treatment can refuse antipsychotic medications

Index Topic

Medication (Right to Refuse)


Mr. Leatherman was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was committed to St. Elizabeth's Hospital for treatment. Although he had not been on medication for the previous 14 months, once Mr. Leatherman petitioned for his release from the hospital, his treatment plan changed to include treatment with antipsychotic medication. He refused the medication and as a part of his petition for release, he asked the court to enjoin forced medication. The district court ruled that the hospital could override Leatherman's personal wishes and require him to take the medication. Leatherman appealed and his attorney asked APA to submit an amicus brief in support of the right to refuse medication.

APA's Position

APA filed an amicus brief supporting Mr. Leatherman's contention that, absent an emergency, he had a right under both the U.S. Constitution and the law of the District of Columbia to refuse forced administration of psychotropic drugs by the staff at St. Elizabeth's Hospital. The brief was very similar to the one APA filed in the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts in Mills v. Rogers, 457 U.S. 291 (1982).


Prior to resolution of the appeal, Mr. Leatherman escaped from the infirmary at St. Elizabeth's and the appeal was dismissed.