Courts

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Not Guilty Plea Entered in Fatal Stabbing of 19-Year-Old HSU Student

Posted By on Wed, Apr 19, 2017 at 5:32 PM

Lawson - GOFUNDME
  • Gofundme
  • Lawson
The 23-year-old McKinleyville man accused in the fatal stabbing of Humboldt State University sophomore David Josiah Lawson pleaded not guilty to murder and a related weapons charge at his arraignment today.

A preliminary hearing for Kyle Christopher Zoellner is set for May 1, District Attorney Maggie Fleming stated in an email to the Journal. His bail is set at $1 million.

HSU President Lisa Rossbacher said in a statement released this afternoon that “we remain focused on supporting our students and doing all we can for Josiah's family.”

“Our University Police are continuing to assist the Arcata Police Department, which is leading the investigation,” the statement reads. “Looking ahead, we will insist that everything 
Kyle Zoellner - ARCATA POLICE DEPARTMENT
  • Arcata Police Department
  • Kyle Zoellner
possible will be done to pursue justice for Josiah."

The criminology major was apparently stabbed after a fist fight broke out early Saturday morning at a house party, possibly over a missing cell phone. The university and the Arcata Police Department have made repeated appeals asking everyone who was in attendance to come forward.

Yesterday, the APD specifically urged the sender of an anonymous email with details about the crime to talk with investigators. APD Chief Tom Chapman also said he plans to investigate and address concerns about the timeliness of the emergency response when it is appropriate.

A vigil for Lawson is set for Thursday.

From Humboldt State University:
A celebration of life in remembrance of David Josiah Lawson will be held on Thursday, April 20, at 5 p.m. in the Kate Buchanan Room.

The family of David Josiah Lawson and the HSU community will gather to to remember the life of Lawson, who died Saturday.

Lawson was a sophomore studying criminology at Humboldt State University and had recently been elected president of HSU’s Brothers United. He's remembered by his family for his warm smile and his kindness.

For support: Office of the Dean of Students at 707-826-3504. Counseling & Psychological Services at 707-826-3236. Employee Assistance Program at 707-443-7358.

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Talking Transparency

Posted By on Wed, Apr 19, 2017 at 4:04 PM

ACCESS HUMBOLDT
  • Access Humboldt
Sunshine Week, that celebration of journalistic freedom and the public's right to know, may be well over, but you can keep the spirit going. If you missed Access Humboldt’s March 20 “Transparency and Privacy Roundtable” hosted by Sean McLaughlin and featuring Shahid Buttar of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Eureka Police Chief Andy Mills and the Journal's own news editor Thadeus Greenson, no worries. You can watch it right here. Look at us, sharing footage just like that.


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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Employee Calls Police After Alleged Dispute with Public Defender

Posted By on Wed, Apr 12, 2017 at 3:08 PM

Public Defender staff gathered with now retired Public Defender Kevin Robinson (center).
  • Public Defender staff gathered with now retired Public Defender Kevin Robinson (center).
One of Humboldt County Public Defender David Marcus’ employees filed a report with the Eureka Police Department yesterday alleging that he verbally assaulted her in the office after learning that office employees had sent a letter to the Board of Supervisors alleging he is unfit for the position.

EPD Capt. Brian Stephens said officer Abraham Jansen and the employee both agreed that, even if proven, the allegations didn’t rise to a criminal level. Nonetheless, Stephens said Jansen took the report at the employee’s request to document the incident in the event that Marcus engages in similar conduct in the future.

The employee contacted EPD at about 3:35 p.m. yesterday and reported that the altercation took place at about 9:20 that morning.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Claim Seeks $1.44M From County in Right-to-Die Case

Posted By on Tue, Apr 11, 2017 at 4:42 PM

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.
Years before Dick Magney was admitted to St. Joseph Hospital suffering from a series of life-threatening conditions, he had spent time at a local nursing home while recovering from leg surgery.

That experience left the former truck driver who for decades battled constant pain and chronic illness determined to never again find himself in the same situation. With his health declining, Dick Magney and his wife Judy had an attorney draw up an advanced directive outlining his final instructions.

Those included being allowed to die with “dignity” and “without prolonging my death with medical treatment ... that will not benefit me.” Dick Magney did not get his wish.

Soon after he was admitted to the hospital in February of 2015, the county obtained a court order that forced him to receive antibiotics for a heart infection even though he had already refused surgery. That temporarily reversed the palliative care choices made by the Magneys with the support of his attending physician, who had determined further treatment would be futile.

While he lived long enough to see the county’s intervention overturned, the self-described “stubborn Swede” died a few months later in the same nursing home he had tried so hard to avoid. He was 74.

“It’s so sad. … It’s tragic that he had to pass away that way,” says attorney Allison Jackson, who represented the couple in their months-long legal battle with the county. “It’s tragic that the family had to go through what they went through.”


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Supes Evaluate Public Defender as His Office Sends Another Blistering Letter

Posted By on Tue, Apr 11, 2017 at 11:01 AM

Public Defender staff gathered with now retired Public Defender Kevin Robinson (center).
  • Public Defender staff gathered with now retired Public Defender Kevin Robinson (center).

UPDATE:
The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors issued a press release after emerging from closed session today, reaffirming its support for embattled Public Defender David Marcus.

"During this meeting, Mr. Marcus reaffirmed his commitment to carrying out the mission of the Public Defender's Office, which is to provide aggressive, competent and ethical representation to indigent persons facing deprivation of liberty or other civil rights in a cost-effective manner," the press release stated. See it copied in full below our original post.

PREVIOUSLY:
The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to meet in closed session today to evaluate the job performance of David Marcus, the county’s embattled new public defender.

The supervisors’ conversation comes a day after eight members of the non-attorney staff of the public defender’s office sent the board a scathing letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Journal, alleging that Marcus has “crippled” the office, has given clients “completely inaccurate” legal advice and “literally attempts to have non-lawyer support staff provide him with answers to legal questions.” The letter comes just about two weeks after all nine of the office’s deputy public defenders sent the board a similar missive, alleging Marcus is unqualified and unfit for his position.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Ruling Puts Martens Up For Endangered Species Reconsideration

Posted By on Tue, Mar 28, 2017 at 2:06 PM

A young coastal marten. - COURTESY OF EPIC
  • Courtesy of EPIC
  • A young coastal marten.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will likely need to revisit providing endangered species protections to the coastal marten after a federal court judge today overturned the agency’s decision not to list the small woodland creature.

The Environmental Protection Information Center and the Center for Biological Diversity had sued the service after the latter unsuccessfully petitioned for the protections back in 2010.

Once thought to be extinct, the cat-like animals — also known as the Humboldt or Pacific marten — were rediscovered in 1996 after years of pelt hunting and timber logging decimated the old growth forest denizens' numbers.

“The magic of the Endangered Species Act is that it puts scientific facts over political games,” said Earthjustice attorney Greg Loarie, who represented the groups. “No amount of spin will change the fact that coastal martens are already gone from over 80 percent of their historic range and at serious risk of extinction unless the Fish and Wildlife Service steps up."

Read the full press release from EPIC:
In response to a lawsuit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity and Environmental Protection Information Center, a federal judge today overturned an April 2014 decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service denying endangered species protection to coastal martens.

Coastal martens were believed extinct until 1996 because of historic fur trapping and loss of their old-growth forest habitats, but are now known to occur in three small, isolated populations in California and Oregon. The groups were represented by the public-interest law firm Earthjustice.

“We’re thrilled the elusive coastal marten is back on track to getting the endangered species protection it so badly needs,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The science is clear that these fascinating and beautiful animals have been reduced to small, isolated populations and face a host of threats that place them at risk of extinction.”

Small carnivores related to minks and otters, coastal martens are found only in old-growth forest and dense coastal shrub in Northern California and southern and central coastal Oregon. Once extensively trapped for their fur, the cat-like animals were once common; now fewer than 100 of them survive in California, while an unknown but very small number are still found in Oregon.

“The magic of the Endangered Species Act is that it puts scientific facts over political games,” said Earthjustice attorney Greg Loarie, who represented the groups. “No amount of spin will change the fact that coastal martens are already gone from over 80 percent of their historic range and at serious risk of extinction unless the Fish and Wildlife Service steps up."

The martens’ historic range extends from Sonoma County in coastal California north through the coastal mountains of Oregon. Humboldt martens were rediscovered on the Six Rivers National Forest in 1996. Since then researchers have continued to detect martens using track plates and hair snares. In 2009 a marten was detected in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park by remote-sensing camera, the first to be photographed in recent times. Martens are typically 2 feet long and have large triangular ears and a long tail; they eat small mammals, berries and birds and are eaten by larger mammals and raptors.

“This decision is a win for science and common sense,” said Rob DiPerna, California forest and wildlife advocate at the Environmental Protection Information Center. “We thought we'd lost the marten due to bad human decision-making once before, and we could not stand by and watch that happen again.”


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Deputy Public Defenders Tell Supes New Boss is 'Unqualified'

Posted By on Tue, Mar 28, 2017 at 9:29 AM

Public Defender staff gathered with now retired Public Defender Kevin Robinson (center).
  • Public Defender staff gathered with now retired Public Defender Kevin Robinson (center).
In an unprecedented move, all nine Humboldt County deputy public defenders sent a letter to the Board of Supervisors on Friday urging it to reconsider the recent hiring of their boss, Public Defender David Marcus.

“We, the undersigned, write this letter to express our belief that David Marcus is not qualified for the position of Humboldt County Public Defender,” the letter states, going on to contend that Marcus’ lack of experience and expertise “not only jeopardizes the rights of our clients to the effective assistance of counsel, but puts staff at risk of unhealthy and unethical work conditions.”

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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Alleging Public Defender is Already Failing Clients, Attorney Asks to Fast Track Lawsuit

Posted By on Sat, Mar 18, 2017 at 3:40 PM

FILE
  • file
Eureka attorney Patrik Griego is asking a judge to expedite the process of determining whether newly hired Humboldt County Public Defender David Marcus meets minimum state qualifications to hold the post.

Griego, who filed a lawsuit earlier this month challenging the county’s controversial hiring of Marcus, is asking a Humboldt County Superior Court judge to allow him to serve subpoenas immediately, forgoing the 20-day waiting period usually required in similar cases. In a motion filed with the court Friday, Griego argues it’s imperative that the case be resolved quickly, alleging Marcus is already making mistakes that compromise his clients’ rights.

“He has appeared in court unprepared and has failed to secure continuances for clients based on a failure to follow court rules,” Griego writes in the motion, adding that “attorneys working for Mr. Marcus are gravely concerned about the well-being of the office and the indigent clients it serves.”

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Friday, March 10, 2017

Griego Files Suit Challenging Public Defender Hire

Posted By on Fri, Mar 10, 2017 at 1:29 PM

David Marcus - SCREENSHOT FROM THE LASSEN COUNTY TIMES DIGITAL ARCHIVES
  • Screenshot from the Lassen County Times digital archives
  • David Marcus
Local attorney Patrik Griego followed through this morning on his threat to file a petition with the Humboldt County Superior Court asking a judge to step in and block the county’s recent hire of David Marcus as its next public defender.

The petition for a writ of mandate, filed as a public interest lawsuit, alleges that Marcus does not meet the minimum qualifications for the position required by the state as outlined under Government Code Section 27701. The code specifies that a public defender hire must have spent the year preceding his or her appointment as a practicing attorney in all the courts of the state.

Marcus served as Lassen County’s public defender from 2005 to 2011, when he left, reportedly to take a job as CEO of a dental clinic. In his resume submitted to Humboldt County, he indicates he worked for the Walnut Creek law firm Cella, Lange and Cella from 2012 through 2016 as a contract attorney while living in Florida. But it’s unclear exactly what he did for the firm, and Griego alleges he doesn’t meet the minimum qualification of having been a practicing attorney in all the state’s courts for a year prior to his hire.

Specifically, Griego alleges Marcus has not practiced in any criminal, juvenile, family law or conservatorship court — or any other in the state — since his departure from Lassen County.

After meeting in closed session Tuesday to discuss Griego’s threat of litigation, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors issued a press release touting Marcus’ more than 20 years of experience in criminal law — in Lassen County and as a deputy public defender in San Bernardino — and stating that he “has significant criminal law experience and meets all statutory requirements for the position.”

In his filing, Griego points to a letter of opposition the California Public Defender’s Association submitted to the state Legislature back in 2011, when it was considering a bill that would allow superior court judges to be eligible for public defender appointments.

“While each office of the public defender in California is unique, two things are consistent,” the quoted portion of the opposition states. “Entry level deputy public defenders are not assigned cases for which more senior level public defenders are more adequately qualified and every chief public defender has at a minimum several years of practicing in criminal cases immediately prior to being appointed or elected chief public defender. These consistencies are not coincidental, bur rather necessary to ensure that indigent defendants we are tasked with representing are providing zealous advocacy required by the Constitution.”

Griego’s petition is filed on behalf of John Does 1 through 10, unnamed people currently represented by the public defender’s office. Unless the board of supervisors is “compelled to comply” with the government code, Griego argues, the petitioners will be deprived of their due process rights and right to counsel guaranteed under the 14th and Sixth amendments to the Constitution.

Attempts to reach Marcus for this story were unsuccessful.

If Griego's suit is successful, the county could be deemed liable for his attorney fees.

See past Journal coverage of Marcus’ hire and the controversy surrounding it here. And find a copy of Griego’s court filing here
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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Supes Support Marcus, Face Lawsuit by Week's End

Posted By on Tue, Mar 7, 2017 at 4:25 PM

FILE
  • file

The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors is standing by its newly hired public defender, even if it’s a stance that will soon land it in court.

The board met in closed session this morning to discuss a local lawyer’s threat that he would ask a Humboldt County Superior Court judge to step in and block the county’s hiring of David Marcus as its new public defender unless the board backed away from the hire or proved Marcus meets the state’s minimum qualifications for the post. Immediately after adjourning from closed session, the board sent out a press release defending Marcus and his qualifications.

“Mr. Marcus has significant criminal law experience and meets all statutory requirements for the position,” the board stated. “We look forward to working with him as our public defender.”

Marcus' hiring has come under a spate of fire from local defense attorneys, who first criticized the hiring process — in which the board sought input from an advisory panel made up primarily of law enforcement officers and the county’s chief prosecutor — and later took aim at Marcus’ resume. Marcus, who served a controversial tenure as Lassen County’s public defender, has not practiced criminal law in five years, during which time he reported working as a contract attorney for a Walnut Creek firm while living in Florida.

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