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A Question of Counsel



During the Public Defender Fiasco of 2017 — which began when the Board of Supervisors hired the incompetent David Marcus as chief public defender — the board received legal advice from the county counsel, Mr. Jeffrey Blanck ("Don't Screw This up Again," Dec. 14). It fell upon Mr. Blanck to guide the board through the firestorm of Mr. Marcus' reign, much in the way that Virgil guided Dante through the Inferno, except that Virgil did a much better job.

The strategy of Mr. Blanck — which ultimately failed — was to discredit and delay Mr. Patrik Griego's lawsuit to remove Mr. Marcus as public defender until after Feb. 7, 2018, when, having practiced law in California for a year, Marcus would have then been qualified for the job under California statute. In a classic case of the tail wagging the dog, the board went along with this ill-fated plan.

With a hearing on the lawsuit looming over him scheduled for Dec. 13, Mr. Marcus resigned on Nov. 22 and taxpayers paid him $25,000 for the privilege of accepting his resignation. It is likely that Mr. Blanck helped to negotiate for Mr. Marcus this generous departure bonus. In subsequent issues involving the public defender, board members would do well to be more circumspect in receiving guidance from the county counsel.

Marilyn Andrews, Arcata

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