Friday, February 26, 2010

Northampton County Solicitor Conflicts

Anti-Angle Democrats have had little to smile about lately. Northampton County Exec John Stoffa, a nonpartisan who believes in goofy things like transparency and accountability in government, was easily re-elected despite the Democrats' endorsement of Ann McHale. To make matters worse, a blue County elected five Republicans to Council, giving the GOP a 7-2 edge for the first time ever. They elected the Northampton County Bulldog, Ron Angle, as Council Prez. And what's really gotta' hurt is that, so far, he's been remarkably effective.

I guess it's only natural that they were besides themselves with joy last week. Word leaked out that, in a Ron Angle dispute concerning his father's estate, the Register of Wills had doubts about the validity of a Will Ron offered for probate. She preferred an earlier Will, signed through a car window, prepared by an attorney who incorrectly told Ron's father that he had to see him if he wanted to revoke it. (I've told you that story here).

When the Register of Wills, who is neither a lawyer nor a judge, made her decision, she had help. Assistant County Solicitor Chris Spadoni, a partisan Democrat who also serves as Solicitor to Bethlehem City Council, drafted her decision. And although the Register wanted to keep a lid on things until the families were notified, word spread like wildfire. At Thursday night's Council meeting, Democratic members had copies. And right after the meeting, a portion of the decision was anonymously placed on a local hate blog.

Now I understand that even though Angle is Council President, he should be subjected to the same scrutiny as everyone else. But he's also entitled to the same decency. This was a family matter, and all the stories and insinuations really hurt his wife, who has no interest in politics. He and his family were victimized.

Before the decision was ever made public or Angle was even provided with his own copy, stories appeared in both local papers. And CACLV Executive Director Alan Jennings, for some strange reason, called papers to insist they need to ask the DA about filing fraud charges against Angle.

County Solicitor Karl Longenbach vehemently denies any impropriety in his office, and I'm informed that Assistant County Solicitor Chris Spadoni has said much the same thing. Neither has ever lied to me, but even they must admit circumstances are very suspicious. Longenbach will freely admit he has no regard for Angle, and just represented Jolly Joe Timmer in litigation involving Angle. Spadoni told a friend of the Angles she should have nothing to do with them. Spadoni is not listed as the Assistant Solicitor for the Register of Wills, yet somehow ended up with the case.

In the end, it's unlikely we'll ever know where that leak originated. But what happened to Angle is an indication of a growing problem within the Solicitor's office. That office will cost Northampton County $419,300 this year ($390,600 for personnel). It is manned by a seven attorneys, only one of whom is a full-time employee. Performance there is uneven.

Over the past several years, these lawyers are responsible for several miscues that have occasionally led the Stoffa administration in the wrong direction. They've sometimes neglected to send someone to cover Council meetings. Spadoni ignored one citizen's calls for a year, until he had to retain a lawyer to do a job that should have been performed by the Solicitor. They insisted on representing the Register of Wills in an estate contest involving our high profile Council President, but sent another high profile Will dispute directly to a judge. Lawyers in that office have expressed animosity towards Angle, but nevertheless advised the Register of Wills in a matter that directly involved him. In insisting on doing so, they compromised themselves because Angle has a direct say in their budget and staffing.

In posts next week, I plan to go into more detail in the problems of that troubled office. But for today, I'll limit my criticism to just one of its problems.

Northampton County's Home Rule Charter is very clear -- it explicitly bars its Solicitor from performing legal services for any other municipality. That prohibition had always been interpreted to apply to assistant county solicitors as well. After all, what's bad for the goose should be bad for the gander. And then Glenn Reibman was elected County Executive.

He expanded the solicitor's office with numerous assistants (who paid for their jobs with regular campaign contributions) and it didn't matter whether these lawyers were also municipal solicitors so long as the campaign checks kept coming. Suddenly, the Home Rule Charter was turned on its head. Since it didn't specifically exclude assistant solicitors from working for other municipalities, it must be permitted. Right? I guess it doesn't matter that, when the Home Rule Charter was first adopted, there were no assistant solicitors at all.

Now here's a neat trick. When Northampton County Solicitor Jack Spirk was appointed Bethlehem's Solicitor, all he did was resign his position in Northampton County, only to be immediately reappointed as Assistant County Solicitor. Pretty nifty, huh?

The practice continues today. First Assistant County Solicitor Dave Backenstoe has served as solicitor in Lehigh, Moore, and Plainfield Townships, as well as Hellertown and Walnutport Boroughs. Assistant County Solicitor Chris Spadoni represents Bethlehem's City Council.

Not long ago, Spadoni represented the County at a Council meeting during which a dispute with Bethlehem occupied much of the meeting. How could he give advice to the administration and still remain loyal to Bethlehem? Council adopted a resolution that night authorizing the County to sue Bethlehem, if necessary. So would Spadoni be preparing a lawsuit that he himself would later defend?

The obvious intent of the Home Rule Charter is that “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.” An attorney who represents both a county and one or more of its municipalities has divided loyalties. And there will be plenty of other opportunities for actual conflicts of interest on matters like road improvements, the sale of real estate, the construction and operation of public buildings, litigation, or recreational facilities, to name a few.

Next week, I'll tell you about the property owner who received a notice that his property would be sold at tax sale for unpaid taxes accrued by a previous bankrupt estate. Over the course of a year, Assistant County Solicitor Spadoni failed to return a single call.

49 comments:

Bernie O'Hare said...

Comments on this post were inadverdently disabled last night.

Anonymous said...

it sounds like you are about to go on a witch hunt. thanks for the announcement though.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The only witch hunt I've seen so far is the nonsense directed at Angle, but I realize he doesn't count.

My objection to assistant solicitors serving as solicitors in other municipalities is nothing new. I have made it before, and on this blog. It is contrary to the intent of the HRC. And in can work itself into real conflicts, as occurred at a recent council meeting.

I'm also one of those goofy people who thinks that when a citizen is notified that his property is going to be sold at a tax sale and he is told to call the solicitor, the solicitor should return at least one call over the course of a year. But that's me.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, hard to believe there is politics in politics. If you are going on a witch hunt in the solicitors office you should take a look at the DAs office as well right? Bottom line is that all of these assclowns are either in bed with each other or are trying to stab the other guy in the back (your girlfriends Angle and Morganelli included).

Away from the County you have the same thing happening. In Bethlehem Township, for example, Jim Brogal and Leo DeVitto are the solicitors, but have been representing Abe Attiah and the COunty in the attempt to get the new jail/rehab facility approved. Now, lets say it eventually gets approved, how can they really represent the interests of BT?

Oh yeah, did I mention that the dolts were appointed to the position w/ the Township AFTER they began representing Atteah? The fact that they were involved in this controversial case should have kept them from having a chance of representing BT.

Here is the real problem: Government in Northampton County (and the municipalities in general)has been run in the back rooms by partisans who are more inetersted in what they are interested in, and not the needs/wants of the people. This includes the judicial system as well. How many times have the local lawyers and a judge get into a room and come up with a decision that wasn't exactly in one of the participants best interest? More then you want to know or care to admit.

You need to look at this from the other side - or outside - to see what is really happening. This is simply tit for tat.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I was unaware of the BT situation, but that does sounds like a blatant conflict facially. I am also unaware that judges and lawyers hdddle in back rooms to figure out how to screw clients. I think that view is a bit cynical, although you may be right. As far as the DA goes, I've written several times about his use (or reluctance to use) the authority of his office for political purposes.

I am deeply concerned by the transparency issues you raise and your suggestion that I am looking at this from the wrong angle. Perhaps you are right. Perhaps you are wrong. You caqn judge me when I'm finished.

PA Hacker said...

The fact that so many in Northampton County government fear and thus dislike Ron is proof positive that he is the man to clean their shit up once and for all.
When did it become for the few while representing for the people.

Anonymous said...

why are you so up in arms? same o same 0. longenbach and spadoni have been politcal toys for years. it's the only thing they are good at. if they didn't have these cushy government jobs they would starve to death (not a bad idea) as attorneys

Get over it said...

"This was a family matter, and all the stories and insinuations really hurt his wife, who has no interest in politics. He and his family were victimized."

I hate to tell her, but her husband is in the public eye and unfortunately that is the nature of the beast. Maybe Ron should have talked to his wife about the position before he took it.

Get over it said...

"The obvious intent of the Home Rule Charter is that “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.” An attorney who represents both a county and one or more of its municipalities has divided loyalties."

Haven't you been going to bat for Angle serving two masters with the Council and the School Board? Now you want to use this argument against the Solicitors Office. So I guess what you are saying is the DA was correct in trying to get Angle to give up one of his positions.

You can't use the argument for one and not the other. Typical O'Hare spin tactics. Only you would defend Angle on one point and then condemn someone for doing the same thing. You have been exposed. People can go back and look at your defense of Angle for "serving two masters." Thanks

Bernie O'Hare said...

It's hard for me to think of a single instance in which there would be some conflict between a school board and county council. They are usually on the same side. Maybe a KOZ vote, but that would be it. Were that to happen, he would step aside.

But here we have an assistant solicitor who represents Bethlehem advising the county on an evening in which council authorizes a suit. That's an actual conflict. Counties and municipalities often have competing interests.

There's another important difference. Angle is elected to this position by the people, who know what is going on. The solicitor is not elected, and is bound by a HRC proscription on serving other municipalities. What binds him should bind the people under him as well.

Finally, the PA Const and statutes decide which offices are incompatible for elected officials. They do not make decisions about county employees. That is in the province of the HRC.

Get over it said...

But the FACT is Angle is "serving two masters" just as the solicitors are. Spin it how you want, but is it not a fact?

Again, if that is the way you interpret the HRC then that is it. You can't take some of it for one situation and not the other.

Anonymous said...

in the stark reality at the end of the story, althought angle puts on a good show, he truly only serves one master HIMSELF everything he does is for his own benefit, and so he thinks, glory. that being said he has made a lot of enemies who are willing to use thier not so secret weapons, the two joke lawyers and their offices, to embarras him. No doubt, knowing Ron, he will get the last laugh

Anonymous said...

Spadoni would be covered in his representation of the County. He only represents the City COuncil in Bethlehem...Spirk is the solicitor. City Council can't bring legal action on behalf of the city...therefore I do not think they would be defending the City.

The BT situation is also technically covered. Stan Margle represents BT in the Atiyeh matter.

Anonymous said...

Question - If this violates the home rule charter as you stated, doesn't the same thought process apply to Angle serving on council and the school board?

Bernie O'Hare said...

No. Only the legislature or constitutuion can dtermine which elected offices are incompatible. But in the case of a county employee like its lawyer, the HRC is controlling. Its proscription on the solicitor should necessarily apply to his assistants.

Get over it said...

If spun that way, I can see your point. But the HRC simply says "No man can serve two masters." When it is not spun to Angle's favor it is pretty clear.

Anonymous said...

didn't longenback come in last place when he ran for judge? fitting

Anonymous said...

Same as it ever was. Seven degrees of mean, cutthroat politics by our public servants. Sort of like the Easton Area School Board. Both do what they want, whenever it fits their needs, whatever their needs of the moment are. They know we know, and that "We The People" are mostly apathetic. Especially when it comes to traveling to the voting booth.

C said...

David Backenstoe has more integrity and honesty in his pinkie toenail than 90% of the people I know....combined. Back off Backenstoe, he is a good man. We all could learn from him.

Anonymous said...

hey C,

When you consider the group in NC and Bethlehem, it may not be too hard for Mr. B to outshine them

Bernie O'Hare said...

"David Backenstoe has more integrity and honesty in his pinkie toenail than 90% of the people I know....combined."

I agree with you. In fact, I think he is their best lawyer. But I stand by my assertion that assistant county solicitors should not be allowed to act as municipal solicitors elsewhere within the county. A HRC prohibition that applies to the Solicitor shoudl apply to them as well.

I had forgotten this until reminded by a friend, but so you remember when Morganelli ran for DA One of his "good government" points was that ADAs should not serve as municipal solicitors. There's even less chance of a conflict there.

Get over it said...

"A HRC prohibition that applies to the Solicitor should apply to them as well."

And it should also apply to the President of County Council.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I've already explained, twice, why the HRC prohibition on other offices is invalid. That's Judge Zito's opinion as well. Here we are talking about a completely different provision governing the conduct of attorneys employed by the county. You get this, I'm sure, but just want to poke Angle.

Get over it said...

I am sorry, but it is clear to me. Maybe because I am unbiased, but "serve 2 masters" is serving 2 masters no matter what the masters are. Again I realize you will spin it in a way the benefits you, but can we please be real here. Your interpretation carries no more weight then mine.

Bernie O'Hare said...

You're not interpreting it at all. You're taking one provision that has been ruled unconstitutional and trying to use that to justify another, vslid, provision governing county lawyers. I deleted your shot at Judge Zito.

Chris Casey said...

This has been going on for a long time all over the valley. A Few years back I attended an Upper Macungie Zoning hearing where then Lower Macungie Solicitor Blake Marles represented both the developers and lower macungie Township. The property in question straddled the boundary between the two townships.i asked if he had a conflict and was threatened with forcible removal. All those involved are no longer in office, but that doesn't mean it still does not go on.

Get over it said...

I must have misspelled....Can you tell me where I can find Judge Zito's opinion on this?

And you are taking one provision that applies to 2 cases and spinning it one way for one and another for the one the benefits your cause.

Thanks

Chuck Schick said...

"An attorney who represents both a county and one or more of its municipalities has divided loyalties."

Not true. The PBA Committee on Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility, Opinion 95-14 states "There is nothing per se in the representation of [City] which would be adverse to [County]. In fact, you could argue in many instances their interests may be the same." The Opinion goes on to note that in the event of an actual or potential conflict of interest, an independent solicitor can be appointed. It is common practice for Asst. County Solicitors throughout the state to also represent municipalities within their boundaries and recuse themselves when a conflict arises (which is rare). Absent a conflict, there's nothing unethical about such a practice, nor is it prohibited by the HRC.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Chuck Schick,

(1) You are speaking of legal ethics. I am speaking of good government. It is not in the interest of good gov't to have solicitors with divided loyalties. There will always be a danger that, in the event of an actual conflict, the attorney involved will not make the call. Note that the opinion is careful to use the term "per se."

(2) The exact language in the HRC is as follows: "During his term of office, the Solicitor shall not serve as legal counsel, solicitor, or prosecuting attorney for the United States, Pennsylvania, or any municipal corporation of Pennsylvania, ... ." If the Solicitor is barred, then his assistants should be barred as well. If one member of a firm has a conflict w/ respect to a client, then they all do. So I read the charter as, by inference, holding assistants to the same standard as the Solicitor.

Anonymous said...

Bernie:

Your attempt to distinguish Angle's conflict of interest from the alleged conflict of Spadoni is specious.

Furthermore Angle's argument that he is not precluded by the HRC from holding both offices is and will be found to be incorrect.

The HRC provides in part that:

''no elected official shall hold any other elective public office or hold other employment with the county for which he receives compensation.''

This is the provision, which was initially interpreted ( and i would argue correctly by the county solicitor, KL) to exclude RA from serving both as a NC Commissioner and and Bangor School Director and later overturn by Zito.

Zito's opinion flies in the face of a proper grammatical reading of the provision which was clearly intended to preclude individuals from occupying two public offices regardless of whether or not they were paid.

The provision contains two "main clauses" ( i.e. a clause which expresses a complete thought and can stand alone as a sentence) separated by the disjunctive word "or"

These two main clauses can and therefore should be read independently of each other.

If that is true, then the prepositional phrase " with the county for which he receives compensation" which modifies the word "employment" in the second main clause is properly read to only apply to the latter situation.

Anonymous said...

Well Bernie I see you deleted my comment that counters your argument. You realize you are doing that more and more claiming personal, attacks or sexual references. Actually you really are censoring facts and opinions you don't want folks to see.

I am going to try again.

1. State Statute trumps the local HRC. Always has always will.

2. Two County Council Solicitors have given two different opinions on holding dual offices for Ron Angle

3. The Solicitors holding other positions dates back to Seyfried and Brackbill not just Reibman.

4. If Reibman did in fact get political hacks,why didn't John Stoffa fire them. Stoffa controls who is a solicitor and who isn't. He made Karl the chief and kept Spadoni, Backenstowe and others on. Why no change in four years?

5. As per state law the only legal Will now recognized by the Registrar of Wills is the Will Ron Angle did not submit. Draw your own conclusions.

Hopefully you will allow reasoned disagreement with your own pre-conceived beliefs.

Thank you!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 9:09,

You were deleted bc you violated my comment policy, which is really pretty simple. If you can refrain from personal attacks, I welcome disagreement. But you did not and hence were deleted.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 9:09,

1) Agreed.

2) Agreed. The Solicitor who ruled against Angle, incidentally, is Longenbach.

3) Disagreed.

4) There could be many reasons for that. Stoffa may diasagree with me. I never discussed it with him. Stoffa may not have even considered the matter. Stoffa was busy his first four years, putting out fires set by Reibman. Even now, we are dealing w/ a courthouse expansion in which snow and ice slides off the roof. Even now, handicapped people struggle for access. By comparison to those issues, this matter pales.

5. This is a matter that should have been heard by a judge. For the Caveat to have prevailed, there had to be clear and convincing evidence, and dissimilar signatures do not constitute clear and convincing evidence. There was no handwriting expert. This matter will be heard by a judge.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 9:08, I actually agree with your interpretation of the grammar, but the HRC has no application bc it is unconstitutional. As explained before, only the Pa. Const and General Assembly can determine whether offices are incompatible.

Anonymous said...

How touching to hear how sensitive the Bulldog is. Its difficult to have much sympathy for this sensitive public servant.

Its amazing how you leap to defend and protect RA, a man best known for being vicious, vindictive and insulting to anyone who has the temerity to challenge or question him.

Yes an ad hominen argument fits him best. One of the many ironies is that his paranoia is fed by the fact that he cant conceive of anyone acting without a personal motive or malice since those are the things which drive his "man of the people " stick.

How many people have sat back and taken his crap without responding in kind or at the petty and personal level that he operates best at?

We all know the profile of a bully... generally insecure and self conscious. When cloaked with a public office and a forum to fulminate about

Finally your attacks on the Northco solicitor's office are off base. As much as you would like to conjure up conspiracies and personal grudges, Angle frankly isnt worth the time or energy.
One day he too will pass and the world will little note nor long remember what he did there. Frankly, he is a living testament to how resilient our democratic process is showing how it can withstand a borish, self indulgent demagogue like your boy.

Perhaps some Freudian analysis is in order for him. I am sure that there is a well established chapter and name for his particular complex.

Finally i would be bet when you get to the bottom of it, he truly has contempt for the unwashed masses that he claims to represent.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"As much as you would like to conjure up conspiracies and personal grudges, Angle frankly isnt worth the time or energy."

So you say in a somewhat lengthy jeremiad.

"Its amazing how you leap to defend and protect RA, a man best known for being vicious, vindictive and insulting to anyone who has the temerity to challenge or question him."

Actually, the person with temerity is Ron. He would not hide behind a veil of anonymity to make his personal attack, as you just did. And the reason he is reviled by most of the people in power is because he challenges them. People like you can't get over the fact that someone like Ron, who has little education and uses poor grammar, can be so fast on his feet. He afflicts the comfortable and comforts the afflicted, and that makes him a lot of enemies.

In the end, that is what this is about. Elitists like you hate Angle, and you'll stop at nothing to destroy him. You'll even smear his wife in an attempt to get at him.

You'll make up boguscigar shoplifting charges and then follow that up with crocodile tears about Ron's poor sister-in-law, who is actually a gold digger. I actually have more respect for her. At least she uses her name.

Anonymous said...

"He afflicts the comfortable and comforts the afflicted".

Wow! I have to give you a thumbs up on that one Bernie. Seriously Dude, that has to be one of the best little word plays you have ever used and it was a good one, credit were credit is due my friend.
As someone who is not as big a fan of Angle as you are, I find your comment one of the most elegantly worded ironic political statements I have ever read.

Ron is a bully, pure and simple. he gets away with it because as you full well know Bernie, he has money! Money is what makes anyone powerful. If someone goes after Angle he does as he has done in the past, he sues them. He then instructs his attorneys to file numerous appeals and stays until he makes all but the most wealthy cry uncle. He is in fact smart and most who know him will readily admit that. You think that everyone who finds his tactics appalling is an elitist, I disagree. Angle has and will attack any who disagrees with him in a public forum. He will viciously say the most mean and vile things. He will disregard the very rules he mow wants to maintain as Council President. No, Ron Angle is no friend of anyone but Ron Angle. Those who know the real Ron Angle know him to be a very intelligent sociopath.

By the way when Ron tries his bully tactics on people his own wallet size like Elmer Gates he has been taken to the cleaners.

Bernie he is your friend but your love for some pol's is blind and sweeping. After another four years will you still claim poor Stoffa is putting out fires. You are worse than the Dem's who still blame Bush. At some point the numerous unresolved County problems belong to John Stoffa.

Even you are prone to the same prejudices and vices you seem to increasingly heap on those who have less than warm feelings for your favorite pol's.

there is no conspiracy and the Solicitor problem is a red herring that can be ended with an hour if the County Executive so desires. That is an easy "fire" Mr. Stoffa can put out!

Anonymous said...

If an Assistant County Solicitor recuses himself/herself from a conflict of interest, then that is both good government and good ethics.

If anyone gets Dave Backentstoe to represent them, they get one hell of a lawyer.

Anonymous said...

The Conspiracy. Sharon Angle typed the Will. Sharon and Ron, Jr. witnessed the Will. Ron, Sr., filed the Will. Ron, Sr. and Sharon testified that the Will was signed by Fred W. Here are all the potential spokes in your conspiracy. Now the in light of the Registrar's ruling the following acts need to be investigated for the possiblity of criminality: Forgery, Filing False Documents and Perjury.

Anonymous said...

Agree 10:41, If Mr. Morganelli really wanted to "get" Angle this would be the time. I believe they will let Angle slide on this one. Of Course that flies in the face of Bernies "Grand Conspiracy".

Did you ever notice how every time something happens Angle has to be the guy in the spotlight. he is an amazing grand-stander. i think County Council will probably elect a new President next year so that the focus is on good government and not the county of Ron Angle.

The three gunmen!

Anonymous said...

Why are people saying this is Morganelli's responsbility to do or not to do anything in this matter ? If this is anything, isn't this a police matter ? That's are system, right ? Police investigate, prosecutors prosecute, am I missing something ? The police don't think there is anything to investigate, why should Morganelli ?

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:40am

If I am not mistaken this situation could be investigate by the DA with his Detectives. I am not sure what jurisdiction this would fall into police wise. I believe it is on the DA's office.

Anonymous said...

Morgeneeli cant get Angle out of one office. He wont do jack. He's all talk when it comes to Ron. He will continue to pick on the poor slobs that cant defend themselves. 50% of his budget goes towards DUI crackdowns.

Anonymous said...

This one seems like a slam dunk, I would be surprised if he doesn't jump all over the forgery charge.

Anonymous said...

Angle always lawyers up. Also with all this "conspiracy" bullshit Bernie and others float around, Morganelli could end up having some of the simpletons that support Angle think he's a victim.

It seems to be a lose/lose for Morganelli and a win/win for Angle. Even if a court found him guilty, Bernie and his core supporters would claim Angle is the victim of "bad" government types tyring to "shut him up".

Angle has created this entire myth of the "persecuted" good government public servant when people who really know him and his past have a quite different opinion.

Get over it said...

Come on now...I think you are giving Bernie far to much credit here. He does not have as many "core" supporters as you would think. Take this topic for example..I have about 8 posts on it, Bernie has 13, that is almost half. Which says not many people are reading or posting. I for one and not a "supporter" of Bernie, I come to the blog simply to put a non spun view point on it. Neither are a few others on this topic. I would say far less than a 1/4 of this post has been in support of what Bernie has said.

Again I don't think Bernie or Angle has as much support as you would think. The few that do support try to have as loud a voice as possible. Add in the spin factor and the numbers seem greater.

Anonymous said...

It is true that Angle is a proponent of the one who yells the loudest wins.

"Friend of the people", yea while he is picking your pocket!

Anonymous said...

Stoffa does not hold himself or the people he oversees accountable. The only transparency is the corruption in Northampton County.

Anonymous said...

Morganelli is a prosecutorial joke and a disgrace to law. Rules of law do not apply in the DA's office or in the courtrooms of Northampton County. Zito keeps the public defenders in line to meet his own agenda on the bench. Beware citizens.