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Judge Rules to Forcibly Medicate Bomb Suspect for Trial

A judge has ordered the forced medication of a man accused of planting a pipe bomb at a Santa Monica Hebrew school two years ago.

Ron Hirsch, 62, will undergo four months of involuntary medication, according to court documents filed last week in federal court in Los Angeles. 

In that time, there's a "substantial probability" Hirsch "will attain the capacity to permit the [trial] to go forward," wrote U.S. District Court Judge Manuel L. Real in his Jan. 2 ruling.

Hirsch had previously been found incompetent to stand trial.

He was indicted May 3, 2011 on charges stemming from an explosion the month prior from outside the Chabad House Lubavitch of Santa Monica. The explosion launched a steel pipe into the side of the Hebrew school before it landed on the roof of a nearby home. No one was injured.

Evidence left at the scene led detectives to Hirsch, who was arrested at at a synagogue in Cleveland Heights, OH.

Prosecutors filed a motion for a Sell Hearing after Hirsch was found incompetent to stand trial in November of 2011.

In the 2003 court case Sell vs. United States, the Supreme Court ruled that a criminal defendant may be forcefully medicated for the sole purposes of rendering him competent to stand trial. Before a defendant can be medicated, however, the courts have to find that there won't be any serious side effects, among other criteria.

"Medication is substantially likely to restore defendant to competency and substantially unlikely to cause side effects that would impair significantly his ability to assist in his defense at trial," Judge Manuel wrote in his ruling.

The ruling was based on an evaluation from a psychiatrist chosen by Hirsch and his attorney for the Sell Hearing, Dr. Matthew Carroll.

Carroll found, "Without treatment, [Hirsch's] chances of living or functioning in the community in the foreseeable future are virtually nil."  

Upon hearing Carroll's evualation, defense attorney Lawrence Jay Litman declined to oppose prosecutors' motion for the hearing.

If convicted on all charges—which include flight to avoid prosecution—Hirsch would face a minimum sentence of 45 years behind bars.

It was not clear from the court documents why prison examiners found Hirsch unfit for trial. The medical records are under seal.

Glenn E Grab January 08, 2013 at 04:34 PM
go to trial?.....the guy's insane.....he'll never get better...
mimi January 08, 2013 at 05:14 PM
This is great news and long overdue. Wish we could implement this action in every case where the criminal is incompetent to stand trial. It won't change the outcome of the crime, but it will give us greater insight into the pathology of these individuals, as well as warning signals.
Glenn E Grab January 08, 2013 at 05:32 PM
look at the guy, he's crazy
mimi January 08, 2013 at 07:06 PM
Yes, I realize he is insane. However, with appropriate psychotropic meds his cognition will be sufficiently restored to articulate his thoughts and motives. In addition, it is probable (during cross examination) to find out how long he planned the crime and what precipitated the event. If we don't get a handle on serious mental health problems and the warning signals that are ALWAYS PRESENT BEFOREHAND, (when you know what to look for), we are destined to have continued crimes of violence and mass murder.
Rebecca A. Anderson January 09, 2013 at 01:53 AM
So, where does the money come from to try to bring an obviously insane person up to compentancy to stand trial? My best guess is that us tired old tax payers will be footing that bill, and for the life of me, I can not figure out why we would want to do that. A bad decision on the part of the Judge, and where did we get that judge from? Yuck!!!

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