It’s a Political Witch Hunt, Says the County, About Lawsuit Challenging Recent Hiring of Marcus as Public Defender But Employees Continue to File Grievances
The recent hiring of Public Defender David Marcus kicked off a ruckus in Humboldt County. One local attorney challenged the hire with a lawsuit, all the deputy public defenders sent a letter to the Humboldt County Supervisors asking them to rethink offering Marcus the job, and one of the employees of Public Defenders Office called the Eureka Police on him though no charges were filed–and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The Supervisors though are sticking by Marcus. Thad Greenson of the North Coast Journal did an excellent article on the latest round of this controversy. We asked to share part of it with you and the Journal graciously gave us permission.
Here it is or you can read the entire article at their site:
County blasts public defender lawsuit as political witch hunt as employees file grievances
The county of Humboldt is asking a judge to dismiss a lawsuit alleging newly hired public defender David Marcus doesn’t meet minimum state qualifications for the job, calling the suit “both frivolous and baseless.”
“(The suit) asks this court to intervene in a purely political dispute over the appointment of the Humboldt County public defender,” the county’s filing states, adding that the lawsuit is just “an artificial legal controversy” promulgated by those “fuming about the merits of the political appointment.”
Controversy has surrounded Marcus’ appointment since the day it was announced, first with members of the local defense bar criticizing the county’s hiring process, then with a pair of no-confidence letters from public defender’s office employees and the filing of a lawsuit challenging the hire by local attorney Patrik Griego. In his suit, Griego alleges Marcus doesn’t meet the minimum standards required under the state government code, which specifies that a person is “not eligible for the office of public defender unless he has been a practicing attorney in all the courts of the state for at least the year preceding the date of his election or appointment.”
Meanwhile, Marcus’ hire seems to have plunged the public defender’s office into a state of chaos. In addition to the no-confidence letters — which were signed by nearly every employee of the office — the Journal has learned that at least 10 grievances have been filed against Marcus by his employees this month and employees report office morale is dismal.
The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in closed session Feb. 7 to hire Marcus, who hasn’t practiced criminal law since his controversial six-year tenure as Lassen County’s chief public defender came to an end in 2011. (Fourth District Supervisor Virginia Bass was absent for the vote but agreed to defer to the will of the board, according to county spokesperson Sean Quincey.) On his resume submitted to the county, Marcus represented that he worked for the Walnut Creek law firm of Cella, Lange and Cella from 2012 until earlier this year doing transactional real estate and property loss consulting, but indicated he only worked 10 hours a week for the firm and reported that he was receiving no monthly salary.
Reached Monday, Griego said that as a part of the discovery process for his case, he subpoenaed records from both the law firm and Marcus. Griego said both responded that they have no records of Marcus being paid by the firm, being under contract with the firm or appearing in a California courtroom in the year preceding his appointment in Humboldt County, nor any records indicating he was listed as an attorney with the firm in any letters, marketing materials or legal pleadings. Further, Griego said Marcus maintained that he does not have any records of hours worked for the firm over that year-long span and the firm could provide no documents indicating that Marcus was listed on its malpractice insurance. To read the rest of this fascinating story, go here and scroll down to the seventh paragraph.