Sell v. United States, 539 U.S. 166, 19 (2003)

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Opinion of the Court

ers. But the District Court and the Eighth Circuit took a different approach. The District Court found "clearly erroneous" the Magistrate's conclusion regarding dangerousness, and the Court of Appeals agreed. Both courts approved forced medication solely in order to render Sell competent to stand trial.

We shall assume that the Court of Appeals' conclusion about Sell's dangerousness was correct. But we make that assumption only because the Government did not contest, and the parties have not argued, that particular matter. If anything, the record before us, described in Part I, suggests the contrary.

The Court of Appeals apparently agreed with the District Court that "Sell's inappropriate behavior . . . amounted at most to an 'inappropriate familiarity and even infatuation' with a nurse." 282 F. 3d, at 565. That being so, it also agreed that "the evidence does not support a finding that Sell posed a danger to himself or others at the Medical Center." Ibid. The Court of Appeals, however, did not discuss the potential differences (described by a psychiatrist testifying before the Magistrate) between ordinary "over-familiarity" and the same conduct engaged in persistently by a patient with Sell's behavioral history and mental illness. Nor did it explain why those differences should be minimized in light of the fact that the testifying psychiatrists concluded that Sell was dangerous, while Sell's own expert denied, not Sell's dangerousness, but the efficacy of the drugs proposed for treatment.

The District Court's opinion, while more thorough, places weight upon the Medical Center's decision, taken after the Magistrate's hearing, to return Sell to the general prison population. It does not explain whether that return reflected an improvement in Sell's condition or whether the Medical Center saw it as permanent rather than temporary. Cf. Harper, supra, at 227, and n. 10 (indicating that physical

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