Updated 5:29 p.m.
Lawyers for President Ronald Reagan's attempted assassin today asked a federal judge in Washington to grant him additional visits to his mother's house, saying he has run out his limited number of trips and cannot continue "progressing with therapeutic and transitional goals."
John Hinckley Jr.'s attorneys at Dickstein Shapiro asked Judge Paul Friedman to give Hinckley additional trips as attorneys for St. Elizabeths Hospital, where Hinckley has lived for more than 20 years, prepare to file a request for the enlargement of the terms of Hinckley’s conditional release. That request is expected by June.
In July 2009, Friedman granted Hinckley a total of 12 visits to his mother’s home. In his 15-page order (PDF), Friedman said the purpose of the visits is to give Hinckley the opportunity to acclimate to his mother’s community. In recent years, Friedman has incrementally expanded (PDF) Hinckley’s freedom, imposing certain conditions that govern his trips away from the hospital.
Hinckley’s lawyers, including Dickstein partner Barry Wm. Levine, co-leader of the firm’s white-collar criminal defense and investigations practice, said in court papers (PDF) filed today that each of the 12 trips since July 2009 “were completed in full and faithful compliance” with Friedman’s order and “without any manifestation of mental disease or danger to himself or others.”
The court papers filed today, the eve of the 30th anniversary of the Reagan assassination attempt, do not specify a number of additional visits.
In an interview this evening, Levine said Hinckley is not a danger to himself or others and that there are no longer symptoms of mental illness. Hinckley, Levine said, has "unfailingly adhered to every component of every court order."
"I think the important message for people of good will is that the John Hinckley who fired that weapon was a man ravaged by mental disease," Levine said. "Today, there is no evidence of that disease. This is a victory for mental health. Through hard work and good care, people can actually get better."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Zeno, a lead prosecutor in the Hinckley case, was not immediately reached for comment this afternoon. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Bill Miller, declined to comment.
Citing security concerns, prosecutors in the past have argued for a conservative approach to Hinckley’s conditional release.