Warrant executed in battery case

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SANDPOINT — A Sandpoint woman accused of battering a city official last year was arrested late Tuesday night for failing to appear in court.

Rita Nancy Hutchens was ordered held on Wednesday on $5,300 bail. Bonner County Magistrate Court Judge Debra Heise appointed standby defense counsel to represent Hutchens after she rejected the services of a public defender, court records show.

A bench warrant was issued for Hutchens’ arrest last December, after she failed to appear at a hearing on a state’s motion for a mental health evaluation.

Hutchens contends the warrant she was picked up on was “falsified,” according to the arrest report.

Hutchens, 57, was charged with misdemeanor battery for throwing an ink pen at a deputy city clerk at City Hall last August.

Hutchens was apparently conducting research on a legal claim against the city for wrongful arrest in 2011.

Hutchens, a probable cause affidavit said, became upset when a city official monitored her from several feet away as she looked over the documents and because she was prevented from taking the documents from the building.

Hutchens, a quilt artist and author, was arrested outside her home in 2011 after she declined to speak with an officer about allegations that she was stalking a tenant whose rent was in arrears. Hutchens was taken to the ground by force and charged with obstruction, but a judge dismissed the charge because invoking a Fifth Amendment right to remain silent does not constitute obstruction.

Bonner County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Shane Greenbank moved for Hutchens to undergo a mental health evaluation due to allegedly erratic behavior in court and unusual court filings.

Greenbank attempted to personally serve Hutchens with the hearing notice while she was researching cases at the clerk’s office on Dec. 14, 2012, according to a memo filed by Chief Bailiff Mark Johnson.

After Greenbank laid the paperwork on a tabletop beside her, Johnson reported that Hutchens grabbed the paperwork and forcibly shoved it back at him, causing Greenbank to stagger forward, the memo alleges.

Although such contact with an officer of the court is against the law, there is no record of Hutchens being charged in connection with the incident.

Hutchens was arrested at her home shortly before midnight. When she declined to answer the door, a deputy forced it open and arrested her.

A marijuana pipe was allegedly discovered during her arrest, leading to a misdemeanor charge of drug paraphernalia possession, court records show.

Hearing dates in the two cases are pending.

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