Reagan Assailant Seeks Permission to Perform Volunteer Work

By Del Quentin Wilber
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 20, 2009; 5:46 PM

Attorneys for John W. Hinckley asked a federal judge today to allow the presidential assailant to perform volunteer work during visits to his mother's home town.

The request comes almost a year after U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman conducted a series of hearings into a request by St. Elizabeths Hospital to expand privileges for Hinckley, 53.

Friedman has not yet ruled on the proposals, which sought to expand the number of days Hinckley may spend with his family during unsupervised visits to his mother's town of Williamsburg. The hospital also asked the judge to allow Hinckley to perform volunteer work twice a week and to obtain a driver's license.

Hinckley has been confined to the psychiatric hospital since he was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the March 1981 shootings of President Ronald Reagan; Reagan's press secretary, James Brady; Secret Service agent Timothy J. McCarthy; and D.C. police Officer Thomas Delahanty.

In recent years, Hinckley has gained more freedom, often over protests by prosecutors. His doctors believe expanded privileges are therapeutic.

Thomas Zeno, an assistant U.S. Attorney handling the Hinckley case, did not respond to a telephone message seeking comment

Hinckley's attorney, Barry Wm. Levine, today filed court papers seeking to allow his client to move ahead with the volunteer work while Friedman continues to weigh the hospital's other requests. Hinckley cannot perform such tasks without Friedman's approval.

Levine wrote that two organizations offered his client volunteer jobs in September 2008.

Hinckley filed the court papers because he is concerned that the volunteer positions "won't be available indefinitely," Levine wrote, adding that performing such work "would be no danger to the community."

His client also "wishes to have his treatment move forward," the lawyer wrote.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company