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Roger M. Adelman Files of the John W. Hinckley, Jr. Trial

 Collection
Identifier: MS2358

Scope and Contents

This collection contains trial transcripts, pleadings, pre-trial motions, photographs, correspondence, and personal writings. The materials date from 1981-1989. These are the records of Roger M. Adelman, who served as the senior prosecutor for the United States attorney's office during the trial of John W. Hinckley, Jr. The records are related to this trial and Hinckley's attempted assassination of United States President Ronald Reagan.

Dates

  • 1981-1989

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Biographical

Roger M. Adelman (1941-2015) was the federal government lawyer who led the unsuccessful prosecution of John W. Hinckley, Jr., in the 1981 assassination attempt of United States President Ronald Reagan. The trial led to significant alterations in the law regarding the insanity defense in criminal trials. Prior to 1984, defendants could be found not guilty by reason of insanity if it could be shown that, because of mental disease, they could not tell the difference between right and wrong or could not control themselves well enough to obey the law. In 1984, in direct response to the Hinckley verdict, Congress passed the Comprehensive Crime Control Act, which set a higher bar for the insanity defense in federal courts. Under this new law, lack of control was no longer a defense.

Roger M. Adelman was born on June 25, 1941, in Norristown, Pennsylvania. He earned his bachelor’s degree in English at Dartmouth College in 1963 and received his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1966. Adelman then went on to serve in the United States Army and attended its language school in Monterey, California, to learn Russian. After leaving the military, Adelman began working for the United States Attorney’s office in Washington, DC. In 1997, the Council for Court Excellence awarded him the Justice Potter Stewart Award for his contribution to the administration of Justice in Washington. Roger Adelman died in Washington, DC, in 2015.

Historical

On March 30, 1981, John W. Hinckley, Jr., attempted to assassinate United States President Ronald Reagan outside of the Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. Hinckley wounded Regan with a bullet that ricocheted off of the presidential limousine. Hinckely also wounded Secret Service Agent Timothy McCarthy, police officer Thomas Delahanty, and press secretary James Brady. In 1982, Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was confined to St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C. until his release in 2016. The trial led to significant alterations in the law regarding the insanity defense in criminal trials. Prior to 1984, defendants could be found not guilty by reason of insanity if it could be shown that, because of mental disease, they could not tell the difference between right and wrong or could not control themselves well enough to obey the law. In 1984, in direct response to the Hinckley verdict, Congress passed the Comprehensive Crime Control Act, which set a higher bar for the insanity defense in federal courts. Under this new law, lack of control was no longer a defense.

Extent

10.5 Linear Feet

Language

English

Overview

Roger M. Adelman (1941-2015) was the senior prosecutor for the United States attorney's office during the trial of John W. Hinckley, Jr. The records, ranging in date from 1981-1989, are related to this trial and Hinckley's attempted assassination of United States President Ronald Reagan in 1981. In 1982, Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity. In 1984, in direct response to the Hinckley verdict, Congress passed the Comprehensive Crime Control Act, which set a higher bar for the insanity defense in federal courts.

Arrangement

Organized in 2 series: Legal documents and Personal writings.

Physical Location

Materials are stored off-site and will require additional retrieval time. Please contact the Special Collections Research Center for more information.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Paul L. Knight and Michael H. Cardozo, 2016 June 10 (Accession 2016.086)

Source

Creator

Title
Guide to the Roger M. Adelman Files of the John W. Hinckley, Jr. Trial, 1981-1989
Status
Completed
Author
Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University
Date
2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University Repository

Contact:
2130 H Street NW
Washington 20052 United States of America