Government

Friday, March 3, 2017

Supes to Discuss Threatened Public Defender Lawsuit Tuesday

Posted By on Fri, Mar 3, 2017 at 4:29 PM

David Marcus - SCREENSHOT FROM THE LASSEN COUNTY TIMES DIGITAL ARCHIVES
  • Screenshot from the Lassen County Times digital archives
  • David Marcus
The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors will convene in closed session Tuesday to discuss its newly hired public defender, whether he is qualified to hold his post and whether it should brave the threat of a lawsuit in order to keep him.

As we reported Wednesday, local attorney Patrik Griego sent the county a letter threatening litigation if it doesn’t prove that David Marcus is qualified to hold the position of public defender or remove him from it.

Marcus, who was appointed to the post Feb. 7 and started work Monday, has come under fire from members of the local defense bar who think the process used to hire him was tainted and are concerned about several aspects of Marcus’ resume. (Read more about this in past Journal coverage here.)

Now, Griego has raised the question of whether Marcus is legally qualified to hold the post. California Government Code Section 27701 holds that a person is not eligible to take the office of public defender unless he or she “has been a practicing attorney in all of the courts of the state for at least the year preceding” his or her appointment. As we’ve reported before, it’s not entirely clear what Marcus has been doing since leaving his position as Lassen County’s public defender in 2011. He has retained his active California bar license but has been living in Florida and apparently not practicing criminal law.

Despite numerous requests from the Journal, County Counsel Jeff Blanck has not returned calls seeking comment about Marcus’ qualifications or Griego’s threat. Griego declined to comment when contacted by the Journal today, but said earlier this week that if the county doesn’t show that Marcus is qualified or let him go, he intends to ask a Humboldt County judge to intercede and block the appointment.

Read more about Marcus and the threat of litigation in past Journal coverage here.

The issue appears on the supes' agenda as a conference with legal counsel regarding threatened litigation.
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Thursday, March 2, 2017

Wheetley Feted as Arcata Council Moves Forward With Appointment

Posted By on Thu, Mar 2, 2017 at 3:05 PM

Wheetley - CITY OF ARCATA
  • City of Arcata
  • Wheetley
Now former Arcata Councilmember Mark Wheetley was sent off with a standing ovation and a proclamation honoring the volunteer soccer coach’s 12 years of elected public service at his last meeting on Wednesday.

Mayor Susan Ornelas read the accolades for the soon-to-be Fortuna city manager, which described Wheetley as an “easy to work with and level-headed councilmember” who acted as a “voice for families and a champion for Arcata youth.”

He was also lauded for his “deep knowledge of everything from CEQA to recreation” and for bringing “a thoughtful approach” to meeting Arcata’s needs during his time in office.

The council also voted to proceed with the application process recommended by staff to fill the remainder of Wheetley’s term, which runs 2018.

Wheetley said he always took his role on the council very seriously and thanked his fellow councilmembers — past and present — as well as the city’s residents.

“I am very honored to have been elected to four terms by the people of Arcata,” he said.

Wheetley also offered his appreciation to city staff, saying “all the great things that happen in Arcata are on the shoulders of the great staff we have here.”



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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Attorney to County: If New Public Defender is Qualified, Prove it or Face Lawsuit

Posted By on Wed, Mar 1, 2017 at 1:17 PM

THINKSTOCK
  • Thinkstock
A local attorney is threatening legal action if the county of Humboldt doesn’t remove newly hired Public Defender David Marcus from his post or prove that he’s qualified to hold it.

After a controversial hiring process, the Board of Supervisors appointed Marcus to the post Feb. 7 and his first day on the job was Monday. But on Tuesday, local attorney Patrik Griego, of the firm Janssen and Malloy, hand delivered a letter to county counsel’s office alerting it to the fact that Marcus’ hire may have violated California Government Code Section 27701, which lays out the minimum qualifications for a public defender in the state.

The Journal emailed County Counsel Jeff Blanck about the code section as it relates to Marcus’ hire on Friday afternoon and then followed up with phone calls Friday, Monday and Tuesday but has so far received no response.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Settlement Next Step in Magney End-of-Life Care Case

Posted By on Tue, Feb 28, 2017 at 9:00 AM

Dick and Judy Magney around the time they met in 1992 - PHOTO COURTESY OF JUDY MAGNEY
  • Photo courtesy of Judy Magney
  • Dick and Judy Magney around the time they met in 1992
A scathing appellate ruling that found officials with the county of Humboldt overstepped their bounds and misrepresented evidence to the court when they interfered in a Carlotta couple’s end-of-life medical decisions became final yesterday.

That sets the stage for attorney Allison Jackson, who represented Dick and Judy Magney in the case, to begin settlement talks — a process that she said will start with a letter being sent to the board of supervisors this week “in order for them to understand the gravity and significance of this decision.”

Almost exactly two years have passed since Adult Protective Services began a March 2015 investigation into never pursued or substantiated reports of possible caretaker neglect after Dick Magney — then 73 and in failing health — was admitted to the hospital.

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Monday, February 27, 2017

Timeline Proposed for Filling Arcata Council Seat

Posted By on Mon, Feb 27, 2017 at 2:13 PM

Wheetley - CITY OF ARCATA
  • City of Arcata
  • Wheetley
The nearly two years remaining in Arcata Councilmember Mark Wheetley’s term are set to be filled by appointment in April as he prepares for his last meeting before moving on to serve as Fortuna’s new city manager.

The council is scheduled Wednesday to approve opening up an application process, running until March 24, from those interested in saddling up to the dais until December of 2018, when Wheetley's term expires. Wheetley’s seat officially becomes open the next day.

Hopefuls must live and be registered to vote in Arcata, submit at least 20 valid signatures from registered Arcata voters (a list of 30 is recommended) and hand in a maximum 250-word candidate statement explaining their qualifications. (For a full listing of rules and requirements, view the agenda packet.)


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Saturday, February 25, 2017

That Dam Breitbart Story

Posted By on Sat, Feb 25, 2017 at 11:39 AM

Irongate Dam on the upper Klamath River. - FILE
  • File
  • Irongate Dam on the upper Klamath River.
If you read a Breitbart News story earlier this month about the Klamath River, you’d be excused for thinking those of us who live along the river are doomed to die in watery graves as soon as the largest dam removal project in U.S. history is complete.

You’d also be very wrong, both for taking a Breitbart story at face value and for thinking dam removal will have any substantial impact on flooding along the Klamath River.

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Friday, February 24, 2017

County Elections Office Seeks Injunction Against Fart Joke

Posted By on Fri, Feb 24, 2017 at 2:55 PM

AUTHOR ILLUSTRATION
  • Author Illustration
Every year voters receive a small booklet of information that includes a list of candidates, descriptions of upcoming ballot measures and arguments for and against. Most of us give those arguments – 300 words each of pros, cons and one rebuttal apiece – little thought. But most of us aren’t Scotty McClure, a board trustee for the Southern Humboldt Unified School District, vocal Donald Trump supporter, anti-taxxer and civic enthusiast.

When the opportunity arose for residents in the Southern Humboldt Community Healthcare District to weigh in on Measure W – a special election measure that would create a $170 a year parcel tax within the district’s boundaries, McClure jumped at the opportunity. He labored over his con statement, grudgingly complying with requests it be edited for length. When given the opportunity to answer the pro-measure W’s rebuttal, he shot back with a succinct opinion that couldn't be edited for length: “Insert fart smell here.”


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Huffman: 'I Know My Job is to Fight'

Posted By on Fri, Feb 24, 2017 at 1:11 PM

Huffman pledges to fight at his town hall in Arcata on Thursday. - BEAU SAUNDERS
  • Beau Saunders
  • Huffman pledges to fight at his town hall in Arcata on Thursday.

There were no shouting matches, angry jeers, seas of protest signs or calls for his ouster in 2018. Unlike the rancorous town halls some members of Congress are facing across the nation, North Coast Representative Jared Huffman’s meeting in Arcata was a rather friendly affair, often punctuated by bursts of applause, cheers and even laughter at his pithy jabs at the new administration.

“I’m very clear-eyed about what is going on in our county and I know my job is to fight,” Huffman said to loud cheers during his introductory remarks, in which he called for a respectful and positive exchange of views.

He noted that one woman who was a supporter of President Donald Trump had contacted his office to ask whether she would be safe attending the meeting, which drew a few chuckles from the crowd.

Huffman emphasized that “whether you are a Trump supporter or a resister, I want to have a conversation with you and have it be productive.”

More than 1,000 people turned out for the town hall, which had to be moved to a larger venue after Huffman's office received a flood of RSVPs. - BEAU SAUNDERS
  • Beau Saunders
  • More than 1,000 people turned out for the town hall, which had to be moved to a larger venue after Huffman's office received a flood of RSVPs.
That’s not to say there weren’t a few pointed questions from the mixed generation crowd of more than 1,000 that packed the bleachers of the Arcata High School gym, with the spillover of attendees finding a space to sit on the floor or lining up along the edges of the walls. This for a meeting called with about 48 hours' notice.


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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Defense Attorneys Urge Supes to Scrap Public Defender Hire, Start Over

Posted By on Tue, Feb 21, 2017 at 2:03 PM

THINKSTOCK
  • Thinkstock
It’s very hard to say exactly what recently hired Public Defender David Marcus has been doing for the last five years since his controversial tenure leading Lassen County’s defense services for the indigent came to a close.

The resume Marcus submitted to the county indicates that, since leaving Lassen County in 2012, he has worked for the firm Cella Lange and Cella as a contract attorney, doing transactional real estate and property loss consulting. But that seems to raise more questions than it answers.

Google the firm’s name and you’ll find plenty of listings — on directory sites like lawyers.com — indicating the firm has a Walnut Creek address, but you’ll be hard pressed to find anything more. The firm has no website, and doesn’t seem to come up in any news stories or legal filings on the web. Google the firm’s name and Marcus’ together and you’ll get zero hits.

In an effort to find out more about the firm and Marcus, the Journal called it directly, twice, telling a receptionist we were hoping to speak with someone who’s worked with Marcus or supervised him. No one returned the call. We called back saying we simply wanted additional information about the firm — things like how many attorneys it employed, how many offices it has and what areas of law it specializes in — and the receptionist said there was no one there who could answer those questions. Pressed, he said the firm specializes in “civil law” before assuring someone would return the Journal’s call. No one did.

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Updated: Officials ID Woman Recovered From Humboldt Bay

Posted By on Tue, Feb 21, 2017 at 12:00 PM

cover-badge_.jpg
The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office has opened an investigation in to the death of a 28-year-old woman whose body was recovered Sunday from Humboldt Bay.

Community Service Officer Stacy Hanson today identified the woman as Richelle Anaya, of Samoa, and said an autopsy has been scheduled to determine a cause of death. Hanson said the sheriff’s office was dispatched to the third span of the Samoa Bridge at 4:10 a.m. Sunday and a search and rescue effort was launched with the Coast Guard later recovering Anaya's body.

“At this time we do not know, it’s under investigation, exactly what happened,” Hanson said.

The sheriff’s office is expected to release more information on the incident later today, she added.

Read the sheriff's office release below:
On Sunday, February 19, 2017 at about 0410 hours, Humboldt County Sheriff’s Deputies along with Eureka Police Department, California Highway Patrol, Humboldt Bay Fire and United States Coast Guard personnel responded to the 3rd span of the Samoa Bridge, Eureka for a possible search and rescue. At about 0745 hours, United States Coast Guard located a body near the 3rd span of the Bridge in the water.

The body was later identified as Richelle Brianne Anaya, age 28 of Samoa. This case is under investigation by the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office and an autopsy has been scheduled to determine the cause of death.


Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.

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