The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors this week appointed a new public defender. He is David Marcus, former public defender for Lassen County and former deputy public defender with San Bernardino County. A press release from the county (reproduced below) boasts of Marcus’ credentials, including a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree and a master’s in public administration.

But as Thadeus Greenson points out in this week’s North Coast Journal, local defense attorneys, including the previous Humboldt County public defender, Kevin Robinson, are calling the county’s hiring process unfair, saying it was inappropriately influenced by prosecutors and law enforcement, people who have a fundamentally adversarial relationship with public defenders.

“It’s the fox watching the hen house,” local defense attorney Jeff Schwartz told the NCJ.

The hiring panel tasked with recommending a candidate to the Board of Supervisors was comprised of District Attorney Maggie Fleming, Undersheriff William Honsal, Probation Chief Bill Damiano and representatives from Child Welfare Services and the county Department of Health and Human Services — but not a single defense attorney, Greenson reports.

Furthermore, Marcus has previously been accused of being overly cooperative with prosecutors, in part by consulting with the Lassen County District Attorney’s Office before hiring out-of-state investigators for his own office. 

“The truth is a less-than-rigorous public defense investigator benefits the district attorney but doesn’t always serve the public or justice,” a Lassen County investigator explained in 2011. 

Read Greenson’s story here. The county press release is below.

The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday appointed David Marcus to the position of Public Defender. Marcus replaces Kevin Robinson, who retired from the county in December.

Marcus has previous experience as the Lassen County Public Defender for seven years, and 13 years of service as Deputy Public Defender with the County of San Bernardino. In addition to his Doctor of Jurisprudence, Marcus has a Master of Public Administration [degree] and brings a wealth of education along with his years of experience in Public Defense.

There were a number of highly qualified applicants for this position and the county would like to thank all who applied. The county would also like to thank former Public Defender Kevin Robinson for his years of service.