Rhonda Parker / @ 1:57 p.m. / Courts

Judge Orders Embattled Public Defender to Answer For Attorney-Client Chaos in the Courthouse


Embattled Public Defender David Marcus has been summoned to meet privately with Judge Christopher Wilson to discuss the revolving-attorney crisis in the Public Defender’s Office.

This morning Wilson, after hearing from a disgruntled client who’s had six attorneys in under 14 months, ordered that Marcus appear in court tomorrow morning.

“Mr. Marcus needs to address this,” Wilson said, “and we’ll do it in closed session.”

Marcus was not in the courtroom when the judge issued the order.

Out-of-custody defendant Alex Lee Simpson filed a motion this morning to fire the Public Defender’s Office, saying he’s been represented by a half-dozen different lawyers. Another defendant told Wilson she’s had four.

From frequent observation, this has become par for the course in Public Defender cases. It’s common for clients to say they’ve had numerous attorneys and therefore no consistent representation.

Marcus, hired by the Board of Supervisors in February, is already the subject of a civil lawsuit challenging his qualifications. A judge is expected to rule next month on whether he is eligible for the job, which pays more than $150,000 a year.

After Marcus was hired there was a revolt in the office, with all deputy public defenders and most office staff signing letters  claiming he was incompetent to handle serious criminal matters. Many of those unhappy lawyers then resigned. Marcus has hired several new attorneys to replace them.

A number of major cases have been delayed because deputy public defenders were either overwhelmed by the caseload or had to take over complex cases they knew nothing about.

Among the high-profile cases are those of murder suspect Jon David Goldberg, murder suspect Maxx Carson Robison and child-molestation suspect Chad Alan Smith. Smith and Robison were both represented by former Deputy Public Defender Jennifer Dixon, the senior attorney in the Public Defender’s Office.

Marcus did not respond to a request for comment.

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