Victim's family may sue Rock County

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Friday, November 25, 2011
— The family of a Janesville man fatally stabbed in July has filed a notice to sue the Rock County Human Services Department and its Community Support Program.

An attorney for the parents and the estate of Joseph Hanson, 40, formerly of 31 S. Main St., Janesville, Apt. D, filed the notice of claim on Nov. 4. Police found Hanson dead in his apartment on July 12. Hanson's neighbor, William A. Davis, 54, was charged in Rock County Court in September with one count of first-degree intentional homicide.

The family will seek $5 million in damages.

Davis and Hanson were diagnosed with schizophrenia and were participants in Rock County's Community Support Program, according to court documents. Both men were assigned case workers who were responsible for coordinating their living arrangements, monitoring their medications, dispensing social security payments and helping the men with their day-to-day lives, according to the notice.

Davis in July 2007 had been arrested for disorderly conduct after a confrontation with Hanson and another neighbor, according to the notice. Davis at the time was ordered into outpatient treatment at Mendota Mental Health Institute and was found not competent to stand trial, according to online court documents.

He was ordered to have no contact with Hanson or the other neighbor, according to the notice.

Davis' behavior in July was similar to his behavior during the 2007 incident. In July, mental health professionals found that Davis had not been taking the medicine prescribed for his schizophrenia.

Davis' first-degree intentional homicide trial has been suspended because on Oct. 24 he was found not competent to stand trial. Rock County Judge James Daley ordered Davis to a minimum of one year of treatment at Mendota Mental Health Institute. His mental condition will be evaluated throughout the year. If during the year doctors think Davis is competent to stand trial, a competency hearing will be scheduled.

If Davis is found competent, he likely would plead not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, Rock County District Attorney David O'Leary has said.

The Hansons' lawyer earlier this month filed a motion for access to Davis' mental health records. Judge James Daley denied the motion because they are medical records protected by privacy laws.

Rock County Corporation Counsel Jeff Kluglitsch declined to comment to The Gazette about the claim. Now that the notice has been filed, the county can admit the claim, deny it or do nothing, Kluglitsch said.

Last updated: 6:51 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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