D.C. Lawyer Facing Probe over Claims in Hinckley Case

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), December 19, 2011 | Go to article overview

D.C. Lawyer Facing Probe over Claims in Hinckley Case


Byline: Chuck Neubauer, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The office that polices lawyers in the District of Columbia is investigating whether prominent lawyer Joseph E. diGenova violated ethics rules by falsely claiming he supervised the federal prosecution of John W. Hinckley Jr., who tried to assassinate President Reagan, sources said.

The D.C. Office of Bar Counsel has begun a probe into whether Mr. diGenova stepped over the line by taking credit on his law firm biography for the headline-grabbing prosecution and trial, even though he was not involved, according to sources in the legal community.

The office began looking at Mr. diGenova after The Washington Times reported in April that the lawyers who actually prosecuted Hinckley and their supervisor said Mr. diGenova did not play a role in their case.

Mr. diGenova, who was U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia from 1983 to 1988 and is now in private practice, did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Wallace E. Gene Shipp, who heads the D.C. Office of Bar Counsel, said rules of the court prohibited him from acknowledging the existence of an investigation until charges are brought or the matter is otherwise resolved. His office acts as chief prosecutor for lawyer disciplinary matters.

For at least 10 years, Mr. diGenova said on his law firm biography that a highlight of his time as U.S. attorney was that he supervised the prosecution of attempted presidential assassin John W. Hinckley. But Mr. diGenova was not involved in the prosecution or the trial, according to court records and those who did prosecute the case.

Mr. diGenova played no role in the trial and did not supervise the case, Washington lawyer Roger M. Adelman, the lead prosecutor, said in a late-March interview. Mr. Adelman began working on the Hinckley case immediately after Mr. Reagan was shot on March 30, 1981, outside the Washington Hilton Hotel.

Mr. diGenova did not become U.S. attorney until 17 months after the case was tried. …

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