At first I thought it was about form – it really looks bad to have the District Attorney’s office and law enforcement even involved in the PD hiring decision making process let alone dominant in the advisory process.  The Board can protest that “we made the decision,” but the process is supposed to even avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, and only in the old deep south and cold war era eastern bloc countries should you reasonable expect law enforcement to choose it’s own opposition.

But apparently there are other concerns about the man’s qualifications as well as the process, and the Jansen firm which is threatening the lawsuit is not made up of movement attorneys.  They’re not into playing Don Quixote.  They would not make the threat if there wasn’t serious merit to the case.

The Board can only say so much about what is essentially a personnel matter.  They can’t even tell us how the vote went.

I will say that I am less concerned about a PD’s ability/expertise with regard to particular types of cases, the concerns being raised about capital and juvenile cases.  His job is to run the office and he can hire the expertise for those cases.  I’m much more concerned about the possibility that the law enforcement side has chosen someone who will be more compliant with them.

I haven’t had the opportunity to look very closely at the issue.  But Griego’s words are of reasonable concern.

The Board’s press release omits the following facts: A Grand Jury found Mr. Marcus had an overly cozy relationship with the District Attorney’s Office during his last stint as Public Defender. Mr. Marcus then left the State and has not practiced criminal law in more than five years. During those five years, while living in Florida, he has not practiced law in the courts of California, as required by the Government Code. The Board was informed by a practicing Deputy Public Defender that Mr. Marcus has shown himself unqualified to practice criminal law while in the office this past week.

We hope to defend the rights of indigent citizens in our County to a qualified Public Defender as vigorously as the Board is defending the law enforcement panel it used as part of the hiring process. We have given the Board an opportunity to avoid litigation which, unfortunately, will be costly to all parties. They declined. We will file the writ against the Board and let the Court decide the matter.

Stay tuned!

The North Coast Journal has the story.