COURT WATCH: Judge Issues Warrants for Homeless Man Previously Deemed Mentally Incompetent

By Perla Chavez and Audrey Sawyer

WOODLAND, CA — A homeless man with three misdemeanors had warrants for his arrest issued earlier this week during a mental competency hearing in Yolo County Superior Court, despite Deputy Public Defender Dan Hutchinson emphasizing concern over the man’s mental health history.

In addition, DPD Hutchinson highlighted the difficulty in contacting the accused, who is unhoused and without a cellphone, to object to the warrants being issued.

Facing charges of driving on a suspended license, repetitive calling to 911, and “prowling,” the accused, who originally stayed for weeks in a hospital specializing in mental health, earlier had his court hearings postponed because he was declared incompetent.

Now, a letter from the doctor certifying the accused is competent was issued, said Hutchinson, adding, “The doctor interviewed him while he was on a psychiatric hold. He was released from the hold. I got a very short message from him with his name and his date of birth. He indicated to me that he is homeless without transportation. That was from a public number, an informational one. I do not currently have a number for him.”

When Judge Samuel McAdam asked DPD Hutchinson if he could appear on the accused’s behalf via PC § 977, DPD Hutchinson said he did not currently have the authority to do so.

DPD Hutchinson added he has never actually met the accused in person, and that they have only talked over the phone, noting, “My concern is that we are sure he is severely mentally ill when he is not medicated. He was in the hospital for at least a couple of weeks. The doctor interviewed him again, that was around the last time that I spoke to him.”

Regarding whether or not DPD Hutchinson would dispute the doctor report, Judge McAdam reminded him that his client is not present and that he currently does not have 977 authority to appear for him.

DPD Hutchinson said, “I have not spoken to him since he appeared. I cannot appear 977, so I have no view of the report. The misdemeanors, one is from him dialing 911 when he was mentally ill multiple times. Another one is for driving on a suspended license, another one is for prowling.”

DPD Hutchinson added he would “hate for the court to issue warrants on these charges for a man so clearly mentally ill. I do not know what else to recommend except for it to be dismissed.”

Deputy District Attorney Aimee McLeod told the court she understood the position DPD Hutchinson is in but that: “Procedurally, the defendant is not here. I am asking the court to issue warrants. In certain circumstances, I would submit to the court holding (not enforcing) a warrant. Since there is no contact, I would ask for a warrant in each case.”

DPD Hutchinson added there was contact: “There has been contact. He left a message. I just can’t call him back. If the court wants to hold a warrant for two weeks, he may call me back again. I simply do not know.”

Judge Samuel McAdam concurred with the prosecution, stating, “The accused is severely mentally ill. He lacks resources, so at some point he will have interaction with law enforcement on either a 5150 type basis or with warrants. The police will be on the frontlines with having contact. Some have crisis intervention teams. In all reality, the police are going to have that direct contact with him. The warrants are outstanding.”

Bail is $1,000 in each of the three cases.

About The Author

Audrey is a senior at UC San Diego majoring in Political Science (Comparative Politics emphasis). After graduation, Audrey plans on attending graduate school and is considering becoming a public defender.

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