Sell v. United States, 539 U.S. 166, 24 (2003)

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

Scalia, J., dissenting

final decisions of the district courts of the United States" (emphasis added), allowed the Court of Appeals to review the District Court's April 4, 2001, order. We have described 1291, however, as a "final judgment rule," Flanagan v. United States, 465 U. S. 259, 263 (1984), which "[i]n a criminal case . . . prohibits appellate review until conviction and imposition of sentence," ibid. (emphasis added). See also Abney v. United States, 431 U. S. 651, 656-657 (1977). We have invented 4 a narrow exception to this statutory command: the so-called "collateral order" doctrine, which permits appeal of district court orders that (1) "conclusively determine the disputed question," (2) "resolve an important issue completely separate from the merits of the action," and (3) are "effectively unreviewable on appeal from a final judgment." Coopers & Lybrand v. Livesay, 437 U. S. 463, 468 (1978). But the District Court's April 4, 2001, order fails to satisfy the third requirement of this test.

Our decision in Riggins v. Nevada, 504 U. S. 127 (1992), demonstrates that the District Court's April 4, 2001, order is reviewable on appeal from conviction and sentence. The defendant in Riggins had been involuntarily medicated while a pretrial detainee, and he argued, on appeal from his murder conviction, that the State of Nevada had contravened the substantive-due-process standards set forth in Washington v. Harper, 494 U. S. 210 (1990). Rather than holding that review of this claim was not possible on appeal from a criminal conviction, the Riggins Court held that forced medication of a criminal defendant that fails to comply with Harper creates an unacceptable risk of trial error and entitles the defendant to automatic vacatur of his conviction. 504 U. S., at 135-138. The Court is therefore wrong to say that "[a]n ordinary appeal comes too late for a defendant to enforce" this right, ante, at 177, and appellate review of any substantive-due-process challenge to the District Court's

4 I use the term "invented" advisedly. The statutory text provides no basis.


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