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John Hinckley’s repeated requests to visit his family in Virginia have touched off legal disputes with the government over whether the would-be assassin of the late President Ronald Reagan is now sane enough to step out of the psychiatric ward a little longer. For the past two years, Hinckley has been allowed to leave St. Elizabeths Hospital for three- or four-day stretches to visit his family home. Now he wants to extend those visits, but the government has objected. Because Hinckley’s father is too old to care for him, Judge Paul Friedman granted Hinckley’s mother full custody. But the government says she is not reliable. Court filings indicate that Hinckley’s brother and sister — who do not live nearby — will testify about the possibility of their supervising his home visits. Just last week, on the eve of an April 16 evidentiary hearing, the government made a request: that Hinckley’s siblings be sequestered before and during each other’s testimony “so that they do not consult with each other in preparation for testifying.” Hinckley’s attorney said the request was unprecedented. “The Government’s unprincipled motion — conspicuous in its conflict with the Government’s position with regard to the testimony of Ms. Hinckley’s mother over the course of a substantial number of hearings — should be rejected,” Hinckley’s attorney, Barry Levine, wrote in an April 12 court filing. Both sides declined to comment further.
Emma Schwartz can be contacted at [email protected].

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