nature of insanity acquittees' conditions of confinement to justify such an application.
Defendant argues that the Pell and Abbott standards may not be applied to him since the prison setting features a penal element which is impermissible in the commitment of insanity acquittees. Persons committed to St. Elizabeths following an acquittal by reason of insanity have not been convicted of a crime, and thus may not be punished. Jones, 463 U.S. at 368-69. The twin purposes of such a person's confinement are to treat the person's mental illness and to protect the person and society from the person's potential dangerousness. Id. at 368.
The Court acknowledges the nonpenal nature of defendant's confinement, but also notes that it is not a commitment unrelated to the criminal justice process.
The prerequisite to the defendant's section 301 commitment was a jury finding, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant had committed a criminal offense. Jones, 463 U.S. at 363-64. Such a finding triggers treatment of the judgment in a manner consistent with other criminal verdicts for purposes of double jeopardy and ex post facto protections. See, e.g., Anderson v. Dep't of Health & Mental Hygiene, 310 Md. 217, 528 A.2d 904, 907-11 (1987) (nature of insanity acquittee's confinement and the process by which it is rendered implicate ex post facto prohibition), cert. denied, 485 U.S. 913, 108 S. Ct. 1088, 99 L. Ed. 2d 247 (1988). As a consequence of this finding, the defendant may be confined for an indefinite period of time, possibly far longer than he would have been detained pursuant to a criminal conviction. Jones, 463 U.S. at 368-69.
The purposes of an insanity acquittee's confinement are similar to those underlying the detention of criminal convicts, with the notable exception of the penal element. Criminal convicts are imprisoned to serve social interests in retribution, deterrence and rehabilitation, id., as well as the protection of society. Pell, 417 U.S. at 822-23. This array of governmental purposes led the Supreme Court in Pell to uphold a regulation similar in effect to Directive 89 as being consistent with the legitimate objectives of the corrections system. Id.
In assessing the challenged limitation on First Amendment protected speech, this Court cannot refer to penal considerations, as the Pell Court did for the prison context. However, the level of governmental interest noted by the Pell and Abbott courts is paralleled in the insanity acquittee context by additional, compelling factors which substitute for the absent penal considerations. Chief among these additional factors is the special nature of the "legitimate governmental interest in . . . rehabilitating mental patients." Jones, 463 U.S. at 362 (quoting Jones v. United States, 432 A.2d 364, 371 (D.C. 1981)). In this area "fraught with medical and scientific uncertainties" courts should be loathe to interfere with the necessarily broad options afforded institutional officials by enabling legislation. Jones, 463 U.S. at 370 (quoting Marshall v. United States, 414 U.S. 417, 427, 38 L. Ed. 2d 618, 94 S. Ct. 700 (1974)). Such concerns have led courts to "show deference to the judgment exercised by a qualified professional" in related mental health contexts, Youngberg, 457 U.S. at 322, based on the belief that psychiatrists are better qualified than judges to render psychiatric judgments. Parham v. J.R., 442 U.S. 584, 607, 61 L. Ed. 2d 101, 99 S. Ct. 2493 (1979).
The Court will apply to defendant's claim a test informed by the Tribby respect for judgments of mental health professionals, but fashioned after the more refined and heightened reasonableness inquiry prescribed by the Pell and Abbott courts, with due regard for the competing interests involved in such restrictions upon constitutional rights. The ultimate determination will be whether the regulation is reasonably related to legitimate therapeutic and institutional interests in the narrow context of commitment of insanity acquittees.
2. The Directive "As Applied" to Defendant
The criteria set forth by the Turner and Abbott courts
provide a framework for application of this standard to the present case. In satisfaction of the first and, perhaps, most important of these factors, there is a clear, valid and rational connection between Directive 89 and the asserted governmental interest. Dr. Patterson's testimony and related exhibits established that the defendant's narcissistic personality disorder is particularly vulnerable to reinforcement through media contact, resulting in exacerbation of his illness generally.
Weighing heavily in favor of the directive's constitutionality is the availability of an alternative means of exercising the asserted right: the written medium. The evidence established that Mr. Hinckley will be permitted to conduct full and uncensored interviews through correspondence, and that he has done so on at least one occasion in the past.
In response, he indicates simply that this medium is not sufficient for his purposes. However, the Supreme Court found it to be of critical importance in Pell, where the presence of the written alternative not only diminished the Court's concern over restriction of prisoners' First Amendment rights, but reinforced the government's assertion that the restriction related not to the content of the speech but to other considerations surrounding the desired interviews. 417 U.S. at 824-25.
The Court finds less compelling, but genuine nonetheless, St. Elizabeths' assertion that administrative and security concerns figure substantially in the determination. It is true that a sudden deluge of requests for interviews by all patients governed by Directive 89, or all patients generally, would wreak havoc with the administration of the facility. The likelihood of such a development, however, is slight. More distressing is the significant damage routine interviews of patients could create to the therapeutic milieu (including the privacy interests of patients), relationships between patients and each other, and relationships between patients and staff. In this sense, the Court perceives a grave hazard in the "ripples" resonating from even a single unadvised departure from the current policy.
Finally, ready alternatives to Directive 89 which would achieve the asserted goals of that regulation are not available. It is not necessary that the regulation employ the least restrictive means of attaining its goals. It is also not clear that, as applied to Mr. Hinckley, Directive 89 is not itself the least restrictive means available; indeed, if the treatment team's fears about the impact of such interviews upon Mr. Hinckley are accurate, and the Court concludes they are, then any less restrictive device would allow aggravation of the patient's illness. The Court will not endorse such an alternative.
In sum, to review the record of Mr. Hinckley's therapy and conduct since his confinement, as well as his current diagnosis, and conclude still that opportunities for media contact and increased notoriety might not have an adverse impact upon the treatment of his personality disorder would be clearly wrong.
The very thirst for public attention which sparked this motion is the primary symptom of Mr. Hinckley's continued need for carefully structured treatment. To hold otherwise would be to subordinate this man's special need for rehabilitation and the state's legitimate desire and responsibility to promote that goal to public curiosity and news media interests which are unrelated to the purposes of Mr. Hinckley's commitment.
Therefore, on the facts before it, the Court concludes that Directive 89 embodies a reasonable and constitutionally valid treatment decision with regard to Mr. Hinckley alone. Because the directive, as applied to Mr. Hinckley, does not transcend constitutional bounds, the Court does not reach the broader and more suspect issue of whether the directive is impermissibly broad as applied to the John Howard population generally.
C. The Fourteenth Amendment Claims
The Court finds defendant's allegations of Fourteenth Amendment due process and equal protection violations to be without merit. The due process claim focuses upon the availability of less restrictive alternatives to Directive 89. See Def. Brief III at 9. Given the discussion of that issue in the context of the First Amendment claim, further elaboration is unnecessary. The method selected is justified by policy considerations and was not arbitrarily or capriciously chosen.
The equal protection claim advances a few instances of supposedly selective enforcement of the directive to support a charge of "disparate and prejudicial treatment." Def. Brief I at 2. These claims are neither compelling nor, upon consideration of rebuttal evidence, creditable. CMHS's evidence established that no live media interviews have been allowed for maximum security patients since the adoption of Directive 89, and possibly for quite some time earlier. It also supported the conclusion that the only exceptions to the policy have been to allow the entry of authors writing articles designed for educational purposes who did not focus on the affairs or statements of individual patients, and which resulted in media intrusions of no greater magnitude than the intrusions occasioned by periodic professional evaluations. No creditable evidence supported a conclusion that the directive has not been enforced uniformly and fairly.
The Court afforded the defendant a hearing of his rather serious allegations against St. Elizabeths because the Court felt that the nature of these claims and the requirements of due process overcame the substantial treatment concerns surrounding even such a temporally and procedurally limited public discussion of these issues. However, for the reasons set forth above, the Court will not, at this time, interfere with the reasonable treatment decisions of Mr. Hinckley's treatment team. Because Directive 89, as applied to Mr. Hinckley, is reasonably related to legitimate therapeutic and institutional interests, the defendant's motion is denied. An appropriate order is attached.
ORDER-November 28, 1989, Filed
Upon consideration of defendant John W. Hinckley, Jr.'s Motion for Relief Pursuant to 24 D.C. Code § 301 and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution; numerous pleadings of support and opposition filed by the interested parties and amici curiae; evidence presented at the hearing on the motion; the entire record; and for the reasons set forth in the accompanying memorandum, it is by the Court this 28th day of November 1989,
ORDERED that defendant's motion is denied.