Note: This piece originally appeared in Bill Lueders' "On The Town" column in Isthmus on April 7, 2000.
The Dane County District Attorney's Office has done a 180 following Isthmus' article last week about the plight of Thomas Champion, a mentally ill man who has spent six months in the Dane County jail without ever being convicted of a crime.
In a letter faxed Monday to defense attorney Jane Andersen, Assistant District Attorney Robert Kaiser agreed to allow Champion to present evidence of his mental disability in defending himself against felony charges for failure to pay child support. Previously Kaiser argued (and Judge Robert DeChambeau agreed) that if Champion couldn't work due to mental illness, he had to plead that is he insane. An appeal on this issue is now apparently moot.
Kaiser also agreed to allow Champion to be released on a signature bond, so long as he first lets himself be examined by an expert working for the state. This will allow Champion to return to California, where he is trying to qualify for additional federal disability payments that would go toward his children's support. Last month, Kaiser stated in court that he had no interest in whether Champion's kids received support, saying "My job is to punish."
Anderson, in a response, tentatively accepted Kaiser's terms, with minor modifications. Kaiser and his boss, District Attorney Diane Nicks, did not return phone calls.