On Tuesday June 25th a bench warrant was issued for Matthew Hamburg, the troubled son of Fifth District Supervisor Dan Hamburg. Matthew had bailed on a promise to appear at a hearing that day. He had failed to appear at a previous court date as well back on June 11th. A bench warrant had been held at that time, at the request from the Public Defender. But in fact, Hamburg wasn’t supposed to have been granted bail at all, since he was the subject of a felony hearing to determine his mental competency to aid in his own defense, and it was speculated in open court that the Hamburg family had intervened in Matthew’s case for “political reasons.”
The case is a kind of local version of the Kennedys in the sense that Dan Hamburg is regionally regarded as the leader of the soft liberalism that prevails on the Northcoast. It may be remembered that when she became an embarrassment to the Kennedys’ political ambitions, the disabled Kennedy sister, Rosemarie, was shipped out West to a private institution and given a lobotomy. When the Hamburgs bailed the troubled son Matthew out of jail a few weeks ago, he too was put in a private mental institution and was probably given a prescription for an oral lobotomy — Big Pharma has plenty of ‘em.
But on Tuesday the 25th, the court agreed that the Hamburg’s political interests were being put ahead of Matthew Hamburg’s mental health interests and the warrant was issued.
It has been common knowledge for years that Matthew Hamburg has mental issues, and it is often speculated that his heavy use of marijuana at an early age caused the condition he suffers from.
The latest episode involving him occurred on May 5th, when Matthew got into some sort of squabble at or near the Frank Zeek School in South Ukiah. He was reportedly using foul language at peak volume and blistering the sensitive ears of the young scholars on the playgrounds. The police were called, a chase ensued across town and out the Boonville Road to Shepherds Lane, site of the Hamburg property, where Matthew was finally run to ground and arrested after a scuffle with deputies. He was charged with recklessly evading an officer, a felony.
The case was assigned to Carly Dolan of the Public Defender’s Office and a prelim was set for May 22nd. Ms. Dolan in the meantime made a motion for a sanity hearing due to her doubts that Mr. Hamburg was mentally competent to aid in his own defense. This proceeding includes appointments with psychologists to determine whether a person is crazy or not, because, well, in a culture as crazy as ours, only a professional with an office in an old Victorian house on School Street in Ukiah can tell for sure who’s crazy and who’s sane.
But before the psychological evaluations could be completed enter Richard Kossow, described as "a visiting judge from Humboldt County." He may live there now but the Honorable Richard Kossow was a pioneer stoner who rose from a prolonged interlude of hippie grab ass at the famous Rainbow Commune on Greenwood Road, Anderson Valley, to the Superior Court sinecure he occupies to this day. Judge Kossow, who goes all the way back with Hamburg to the days of full moon boogies, had already granted bail to Matthew Hamburg on the grounds that a conservatorship was underway.
Matthew Hamburg had disappeared.
Someone — presumably a member of the Hamburg family — had bailed Matthew out on a promise to appear on June 25th. But he failed to appear, and the judge handling the case, the Honorable Ann Moorman, wanted an explanation why she shouldn’t issue a bench warrant. Her Honor was also annoyed with a set of orders with political overtones from an undisclosed source.
“I’ve been presented with orders I won’t sign,” Judge Moorman said.
Ms. Dolan wasn’t present, so Public Defender Linda Thompson filled in for Dolan, saying that it was her understanding that Matthew Hamburg had been taken to a private mental health facility and that County Counsel Tom Parker had somehow been involved in making this unique arrangement.
“The case has taken a weird turn, frustrating my office,” Ms. Thompson said. “I suspect something political is going on here. We had no notice his bond had been posted, so he could be taken to North Valley Mental Health on a 5150. But Ms. Dolan was hoping the 1368 (competence hearing) wouldn’t have to be declined.”
Thompson said it was her understanding that Matthew had somehow been found incompetent and his public guardian had asked for a temporary conservatorship.
“Dr. Kelly spoke with Matt and said he’d been restored… somehow. Then Judge Kossow accepted the placement.”
Kelly is also a long time Hamburg supporter.
Judge Moorman said she wasn’t entirely confident as to where Mr. Hamburg was. “But we need him here,” she added, emphatically. “And I won’t sign a placement recommendation.”
Deputy DA Matt Hubley wanted the bail bond forfeited and a bench warrant issued. “There’s a political element here,” he said, “and Dr. Kelly is caught in the middle. The defendant was not going to go back to North Valley.”
The Public Defender said she’d like the warrant held until she could contact the mental health facility and find out if Mr. Hamburg was there or not; and whether or not he was the subject of a conservatorship. DA David Eyster said it was unheard of that a conservatorship would be done when a defendant was the subject of a competence hearing, without first consulting with the DA.
DDA Hubley said, “Let the bench warrant issue and let law enforcement get him here.”
Thompson said, “I talked to Dr. Kelly this morning and he said if he could get the order today, he’d go back to North Valley and talk to him [Matthew Hamburg]. The family and Mental Health made this decision to get him out of here. If the court could hold the warrant until I can talk to ‘the powers that be’ and see if we can get him back here without law enforcement involvement…”
Judge Moorman said she agreed with Ms. Thompson that Matthew Hamburg’s interests were taking a back seat to his connected family’s interests, and that his father’s political influence had obviously been exerted.
Moorman said, “I have an obligation to keep track of the expenses involved here. He was in court and Judge Kossow found him incompetent and agreed to the placement. Now, I‘m being asked to spend more tax dollars on the same questionable decision.”
Hubley said, “The DA was approached by two county officials asking for the release and placement — this comes at a time when we have other people waiting for those beds, and I don’t see why Mr. Hamburg should receive preference.”
DA David Eyster said, “I’m not sure how it happens that a 1368 felony gets bailed out of jail… I think the court has to forfeit the bond and issue the warrant.”
Judge Moorman said, “I don’t have jurisdiction if I don’t have a body so I’m going to issue the bench warrant in the amount of $35,000. The bail bond is forfeit because the defendant bailed to appear and failed to do so. I am also ordering County Counsel to be here, and I’m considering recalling Judge Kossow’s incompetent ruling. The court has not rescinded the 1368 even though he may have failed to appear intentionally.”
An honest judge is a wonderful thing to see.