The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors voted in closed session this afternoon to appoint Marek Reavis, currently serving as interim public defender, to that office's top job. Reavis' appointment caps a tumultuous year for the department, which saw public outcry and mass resignations over the board's previous appointment, David Marcus, whom many considered unqualified. After Marcus abruptly left in November, Conflict Counsel Kaleb Cockrum briefly took the reins of the office, which had hemorrhaged staff under Marcus' tenure. But Cockrum was appointed judge in February, leaving Reavis to step in. The Board apparently thought he was doing a good job.
Reavis had an uncommon life path to his current place of residence and career, beginning life in St. Louis, Missouri, before traveling around the country as an artist and painter before deciding to attend law school at the University of California in Berkeley. He was admitted to the California State Bar in 2000. He said he always knew he wanted to work as a criminal defense attorney.
"Growing up, I watched Perry Mason
, The Defenders
," he told the Journal
. "When I was a junior in a law firm, I was planning for my first deposition."
Working in Humboldt County for Conflict Counsel, where he has been since February of 2006, was the perfect fit for him. He was, he said, "in the mix" right away.
Humboldt County, he says, is unique in that there are many cases, many clients and a temperate climate where the culture is "saturated" with many different drugs.
"With the passage of Prop. 47, we're no longer exporting problems," Reavis said. "We've got to come up with our own solutions."
Reavis added that community-based justice systems, such as homeless court and mental health court, might be one solution.
As for his plans for the office, the new public defender said he has "no big plans" just yet, other than filling vacancies that have left staff scrambling to pick up the extra load.
"One of the problems we have here in Humboldt County is attracting talent," Reavis said, adding the department would be opening up positions for new deputy public defenders and staff soon. "We have a pretty exceptional staff here right now."
County spokesperson Sean Quincey told the Journal
the board's vote was unanimous.