The opinion resolves the latest round of legal wrangling over what to do with Hinckley, though it hardly brings the case to a close. Hinckley’s doctors and therapists had asked Friedman to gradually expand the length of Hinckley’s trips to his mother’s home in Williamsburg to up to 24 days, and eventually allow him to reside there full time.
Friedman, though, wrote that it would be “unwise” to allow Hinckley even more freedom without further evaluation and court involvement, noting Hinckley “continues to exhibit deceptive behavior even when there are no symptoms of psychosis or depression” and had “not cultivated any friends or established ties to any groups of people in Williamsburg.”
Federal prosecutors had advocated for a go-slow approach that would not immediately expand Hinckley’s visitation period, emphasizing the dangerous circumstances of the 1981 shooting that injured the president and three others. They noted that Hinckley lied to mental health professionals about having seen two movies — lies that were uncovered only because the Secret Service had been monitoring his movements.
Informed of the opinion by a reporter, Barry Wm. Levine, Hinckley’s attorney, said that he was “gratified” that Hinckley will have more freedom, even if the expansion is gradual.
“While we had hoped we would be able to avoid having to go back to court again, we don’t mind that, because John has demonstrated and continues to demonstrate that the conditions that existed back in 1981 no longer exist today,” Levine said. “We think John is on a perfect trajectory moving toward unconditional release, and this is part of that.”
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A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C. News:
Friedman’s order also allows Hinckley to drive alone to specific destinations — which Levine said will help him integrate in Williamsburg — though it requires he carry a GPS enabled cell phone during unsupervised activities. Friedman wrote that court and mental health officials would evaluate Hinckley’s progress after eight 17-day visits.