Sell v. United States, 539 U.S. 166, 10 (2003)

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Cite as: 539 U. S. 166 (2003)

Opinion of the Court

ically appropriate" for Sell, id., at 571. It added that the "medical evidence presented indicated a reasonable probability that Sell will fairly be able to participate in his trial." Id., at 572. One member of the panel dissented primarily on the ground that the fraud and money laundering charges were "not serious enough to warrant the forced medication of the defendant." Id., at 574 (opinion of Bye, J.).

We granted certiorari to determine whether the Eighth Circuit "erred in rejecting" Sell's argument that "allowing the government to administer antipsychotic medication against his will solely to render him competent to stand trial for non-violent offenses," Brief for Petitioner i, violated the Constitution—in effect by improperly depriving Sell of an important "liberty" that the Constitution guarantees, Amdt. 5.


We first examine whether the Eighth Circuit had jurisdiction to decide Sell's appeal. The District Court's judgment, from which Sell had appealed, was a pretrial order. That judgment affirmed a Magistrate's order requiring Sell involuntarily to receive medication. The Magistrate entered that order pursuant to an earlier delegation from the District Court of legal authority to conduct pretrial proceedings. App. 340; see 28 U. S. C. 636(b)(1)(A). The order embodied legal conclusions related to the Medical Center's administrative efforts to medicate Sell; these efforts grew out of Sell's provisional commitment; and that provisional commitment took place pursuant to an earlier Magistrate's order seeking a medical determination about Sell's future competence to stand trial. Cf. Riggins v. Nevada, 504 U. S. 127 (1992) (reviewing, as part of criminal proceeding, trial court's denial of defendant's motion to discontinue medication); Stack v. Boyle, 342 U. S. 1, 6-7 (1951) (district court's denial of defendant's motion to reduce bail is part of criminal proceeding and is not reviewable in separate habeas action).


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