Judge orders Aspen senior to be committed
December 29, 2011
ASPEN – A judge determined Wednesday that a senior woman who has been jailed since May is incompetent to stand trial for a series of felony charges connected to accusations of harassing, stalking and threatening local residents.
Judge James Boyd based his ruling on a court-ordered evaluation from a clinical psychologist who interviewed 70-year-old Jan Hamilton for more than three hours in November. Via speaker phone during a competency hearing Wednesday in Pitkin County District Court, Dr. Jane Cleveland, of Denver, said Hamilton “does not fully seem to appreciate the charges against her, nor does she seem to appreciate the proceedings against her.”
Hamilton is due back in court Jan. 23 for further proceedings.
While Hamilton will remain in the Pitkin County Jail for now, Boyd ordered her to the custody of the Colorado Department of Human Services in Pueblo, where she will live as an inpatient and undergo further monitoring and evaluation. The length of her stay has not been determined.
While she has been deemed incompetent for now, Hamilton, if she is rehabilitated to the liking of the court, eventually could answer the criminal charges.
Hamilton, who has cancer and sat in a wheelchair during the hearing, has been incarcerated since May 4 on three cash-only bonds of $100,000. Three separate cases have been filed against her and include allegations of stalking, harassment, extortion and protection-order and bond violations. They stem from a spate of emails she sent to local residents saying she would sue them if they did not testify in her civil cases.
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The root of her arguments goes to First Baptist Church, now Crossroads Church, for banning her in 2005. Hamilton said she was kicked out because of her sexual orientation. She also has filed dozens of lawsuits and restraining orders against Aspen residents, landlords, churchgoers and others.
Hamilton blames her adversaries for everything from sexual discrimination, retaliation and defamation to attempted second-degree murder, claiming she is afflicted with cancer because of stress they brought into her life.
Her accusations, according to public defender Tina Fang and prosecutor Arnold Mordkin, illustrate that she lacks the mental wherewithal to absorb the charges against her. Instead, they contended that Hamilton’s relentless emphasis on discrimination, conspiracy and other allegations – she recently accused Mordkin of attempted murder because of her illness and later tried to “friend” him on Facebook – show clearly she is not in the right state of mind for the criminal proceedings.
“The evidence is overwhelming that Ms. Hamilton is not mentally competent to proceed,” Fang said.
Likewise, Mordkin said that while Hamilton has the right to seek redress in the court, “to say she doesn’t get it is an understatement.”
Boyd noted that Hamilton also does not have the ability to work with Fang, her defense attorney, and “there is not a rational link between her understanding and the matters of this case.”
Hamilton had contended that she was competent to face the charge, but she did not speak at Wednesday’s hearing. Previously court-ordered evaluations of Hamilton, both in July and in July 2010, found her to be competent. But Cleveland said that Hamilton is getting progressively more delusional.
Boyd’s ruling comes after Senior District Court Judge Frank Plaut ruled in October that she could no longer file pro se lawsuits without a judge’s consent. Since 2005, she had been part of 61 cases in Pitkin County’s court system.
In a written order, Plaut offered that the injunction “is necessary to protect the orderly and efficient operation of the Colorado judicial system … and to protect the rights of citizens of Pitkin County against abuses of the legal and judicial process by [Hamilton].”
Plaut also noted Hamilton’s propensity to file frivolous suits that were later dismissed, among them one against a brother and sister who Hamilton claimed “played a pivotal role” in having her banned from an Aspen church.
The suit, which was later dismissed, asked that Charles and Nancy Wall give her $1 million in Philip Morris stock; a new Range Rover every three years; a “perpetually stocked wine cellar, with the best European wines, champagne and Cuban cigars”; a fully stocked freezer with lobster, caviar and organic Limousin beef; a full pass to the Aspen Music Festival; and a $1 million donation to St. Benedict’s Monastery in Old Snowmass.
“There is a lynch-mob crusade by extreme Christian fundamentalists – which could even be called terrorist abuse – against me as a lesbian in the Aspen community,” Hamilton said at the October hearing.