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Legal News Roundup: July 29th, 2016

by Missie Frandsen

on 29 July, 2016

Let’s take a look at this week in legal news.


Reagan Shooter To Be Released

Failed assassin John Warnock Hinckley Jr is set to be released on August fifth, thirty-five years after he attempted to kill U.S. President Ronald Reagan. District Judge Paul Friedman of the District of Columbia ruled on July 27th that Hinckley is no longer a threat, as he doesn’t suffer from the mental illness that led him to shooting Reagan.

Hinckley’s freedom has been years in the making, starting in August of 1981 with his team from Williams and Connolly, who successfully argued the insanity defense. Though Hinckley carefully planned the attack in order to impress actress Jodie Foster, the jury determined that the government couldn’t prove Hinckley’s sanity at the moment he pulled the trigger. Following acquittal, he was sent to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital to be treated for psychotic disorders and depression.

Barry Levine of Blank Rome began representing Hinckley in 1991 and immediately requested greater freedom for his client to leave the hospital, leading up to a supervised visit with his family in 1997. Over the years, Hinckley has taken numerous trips away from the hospital to be with his mother and siblings. His permanent freedom relies on thirty-four stipulations that include: living with his mother, volunteer three days a week, participating in music therapy sessions, and restricted internet access. Hinckley is not allowed to contact any member of the Reagan family, or Foster.

Chelsea Manning Faces New Charges After Attempted Suicide

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Whistleblower Chelsea Manning, known for releasing over 700,000 classified documents to Wikileaks in 2013, was hospitalized in early July for attempted suicide. Manning, whose lawyers say “is suffering the darkest depression since she has experienced since her arrest”, has been returned to confinement in an all-male prison to serve the remainder of her 35-year sentence. Following her attempt, Manning’s attorneys at the American Civil Liberties Union discovered that she is being investigated and facing new charges, including “conduct which threatens”. If the new charges stick, Manning may be relocated to maximum security, an additional nine years in custody, and indefinite solitary confinement.

ACLU Staff Attorney Chase Strangio believes the government is punishing Manning for her suffering, and demands that their client be given the proper health care needed to recover.

Former Chad Dictator Paying Millions to Survivors

In May of this year, Hissène Habré was convicted of crimes against humanity, torture, and war crimes by tribunal in the Senegalese courts. The former Chad dictator is being held responsible for the international crimes committed between 1982 and 1990 under his rule. After being brought into power by the United States and France in 1982, Habré’s regime created a secret police force which tortured and killed his opponents, carried out years of ethnic cleansing, sanctioned rape and sexual slavery, and stole millions of dollars from his own government.

Souleymane Guengueng, a survivor of Habré’s secret prisons, has spent years gathering accounts from hundreds of the estimated 40,000 victims. His work helped bring over 93 witnesses to testify over 56 days. 4,733 victimes total are represented in the case against Habré, who must now pay between $16,000-$34,000 to each survivor of his various crimes. Habré is the first former dictator to be convicted of crimes against humanity by an African court, and has been sentenced to life in prison.