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Offensive Defense

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Editor:

Re: Thadeus Greenson's Feb. 9 NCJ article, "Why Some Feel the Deck was Stacked for the Prosecution in HumCo's Public Defender Hiring."

I am very concerned about the selection process for the public defender that Greenson's article described.

First, why was the highly respected and recently retired PD Kevin Robinson excluded from the hiring process? With his years of experience, his input would have been valuable. He said that he would have recommended Greg Elvine-Kreis, the interim PD, for the job.

The second question is why did the panel include prosecutors and police, whose roles are contrary to public defense? Ernie Lewis, Executive Director of the National Association for Public Defense, points out that this is a highly unusual selection process. Such a process does not honor the need of the public defender to be independent from the prosecutor.

Third, did the selection panel know and consider the complaints against Marcus in Lassen County? Both Ron Wood, a Lassen County investigator, and the Lassen County Civil Grand Jury had serious complaints about his performance. The "scathing" grand jury report criticized Marcus for neglecting to come to work, neglecting the case duties of the office, and diverting funds to himself and away from the continuing education of public defenders." These are serious performance deficiencies.

Fourth, is he the most qualified candidate? CEO of a dental lab company in Virginia? How does this add the qualifications for a public defender?

Finally, why were defense attorneys excluded from the hiring process? The response of Dan Fulks, specifically that "he felt it would have been impractical to get a private defense attorney to take a day off work to sit through interviews," is both ludicrous and, according to those quoted in the article, untrue.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said that "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." I am not convinced that justice will be served for the future clients of the Humboldt County PD.

Marilyn Andrews, Arcata CA

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