Hinckley’s Plea essay

I have been asked to give my opinion on what the appropriate plea should be, for your client John Hinckley Jr. who is accused of attempting to assassinate President Ronald Regan. After reviewing Hinckley’s mental history and the facts of the case, I’m going to recommend that John Hinckley Jr. pleads not guilty rather than not guilty by reason of insanity. I strongly oppose using the insanity defense in this case because insanity defenses are hard to prove and based on the facts; I believe Hinckley was of sound mind and body when he committed his crime.

Hinckley should not use the insanity defense because it will be difficult to prove he was insane at the time of his crime. I have carefully scrutinized Hinckley’s mental history and have determined he was not insane during his assassination attempt. Upon reviewing Hinckley’s mental history his records show he has never been diagnosed with any serious mental illnesses. According to his mental history, Hinckley seems to have been a shy loner who suffered from depression and had a severe dependency on his parents.

Shortly before his crime Hinckley was seen by psychiatrist John Hopper who determined Hinckley was not mentally ill. In fact Dr. Hopper only recommended that Hinckley’s parents “push John toward emotional and financial independence” (Linder, 2001). More evidence that shows Hinckley was not suffering from any mental illnesses was that fact that, “Hinckley was fairly well kempt and able to make his way around the country to get on airplanes and check in and out of hotels” (Sokolove, 2003).

That fact indicates Hinckley was functioning as a normal person. It should be noted that Hinckley did a few bizarre things in his life however those actions do not equate to mental illness; therefore insanity does not apply in his case. After reviewing the evidence of the case, in my opinion Hinckley is legally sane to stand trial and was legally sane when he committed his crime. My evaluation of the evidence suggests Hinckley was in control of his actions the whole time and carefully planned out what he was going to do.

The key piece of evidence, which suggests Hinckley, was in control of his actions and free of mental illness, is the letter he wrote before his assassination attempt to actress Jodie Foster, who he was obsessed with. In the letter Hinckley clearly stated his intentions and clearly knew his actions were wrong, which is why he stated to Foster that “there is a definite possibility that I will be killed in my attempt to get Reagan. It is for this very reason that I am writing you this letter now” (Linder, 2001).

The letter further proves Hinckley was sane and absent of mental illness because he went on to tell Foster, “Jodie, I would abandon this idea of getting Reagan in a second if I could only win your heart and live out the rest of my life with you” (Linder, 2001). Hinckley’s own words show there were no uncontrollable mental forces compelling him to attempt the assassination and he could stop his crime at any time if Foster would just accept him. The fact that Hinckley wrote a coherent and well thought out letter indicates he was sane.

Other evidence of the crime which indicates that he was sane is the fact that Hinckley took Valium to claim himself down. If Hinckley was insane there would be no reason for him to take Valium, which is used to relieve nervousness. The evidence shows Hinckley’s crime was intentional and Hinckley knew he was wrong, but still chose to go on with his crime; therefore he should not be legally blameless for his actions. Hinckley’s mental state should not be used to plead insanity because he was not insane during his crime.

Hinckley’s main problems were his dependency on his parents and his battles with depression. However, Hinckley’s constant battles with depression does not equate to insanity because most Americans suffer from some form of depression in their lives. Hinckley’s dependency on his parents to provide him with everything he needed to function also does not prove his insanity because many Americans have dependency issues. Although one could argue that he was insanely obsessed with Jodie Foster most people would do anything for the attention of someone they liked, so that cannot be used to prove insanity either.My recommendation is that John Hinckley is liable for his actions and he should enter into a not guilty plea.


Linder, D. (2001). The Trial of John W. Hinckley, Jr. Retrieved May 10, 2007, from http://www. law. umkc. edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/hinckley/hinckleyaccount. html. Sokolove, M. (2003, November). Should John Hinckley go free? New York Times Magazine,6. 54. Retrieved May 10, 2007, from Research Library Core database. (Document ID: 451643141).