This afternoon, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors issued a press release saying that it will stand behind new public defender David Marcus, despite a threatened lawsuit and widespread questions about the man’s qualifications and his work history.
The press release arrives during the mid-day recess of the board’s regular Tuesday meeting, part of which was taken up by a closed-session discussion of a the legal threat brought by local defense attorney Patrick Griego, which alleges that Marcus’ appointment violates California law as he has not appeared in a California court in over a year.
The board doesn’t directly address Griego’s lawsuit threat in today’s press release, but it does say unequivocally that board members “look forward to working with [Marcus] as our public defender.”
There’s one other bit of news in the press release: The board states that the controversial “hiring panel” that the board convened to interview potential public defender candidates — which contained many current law enforcement officials who might not be thought to have a direct interest in a strong public defender’s office, but no one with a background in criminal defense — was not to blame for the selection of Marcus. That panel, the board says, actually recommended a different candidate, but the board overruled the panel and picked Marcus instead.
Griego’s lawsuit will now presumably go forward. It will hinge on the question of what it means to be a “practicing attorney” in the state of California. The board apparently believe that Marcus’ “contract work” for a Contra Costa County firm over the last five years — apparently conducted from his home in Florida — meets the minimum statutory requirement. Griego appears to disagree. In any case, the North Coast Journal’s Thad Greenson, who has led the coverage of this case, has unearthed plenty of questions about the law firm Marcus contracted for, along with much more eyebrow-raising material about the new public defender’s past.
Links to Greenson’s stories and today’s press release below.
FROM THE NCJ:
- Why Some Feel the Deck was Stacked for the Prosecution in HumCo’s Public Defender
- Hiring Defense Attorneys Urge Supes to Scrap Public Defender Hire, Start Over
- Attorney to County: If New Public Defender is Qualified, Prove it or Face Lawsuit
PRESS RELEASE FROM THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS:
There has been a lot of misinformation surrounding the Board of Supervisors’ hiring of David Marcus as the Public Defender that needs clarification.
After receiving numerous applications the Board decided on five candidates to interview. An additional interview panel was also formed and interviewed all five candidates. The Board also met with retired Public defender Kevin Robinson to discuss the in-house candidates. Three applicants were interviewed a second time by the Board. The Board exercised its discretion and hired Mr. Marcus, who was not the candidate recommended by the interview panel.
Mr. Marcus has 14 years of experience as a Public Defender in San Bernardino County and six years as the Public Defender for Lassen County, totaling more than 20 years of criminal defense work. For the past five years he has been practicing law for the firm of Cella, Lange and Cella in Walnut Creek, Calif. on a contract basis while living in Florida. Mr. Marcus has significant criminal law experience and meets all statutory requirements for the position. We look forward to working with him as our Public Defender.