Photo Provided - David Marvin, a defense attorney from Lockport Township, is one of two candidates for St. Joseph County prosecutor on the August ballot.

Marvin to run for prosecutor

CENTREVILLE — Current St. Joseph County Prosecutor John McDonough has not had a primary challenger in 12 years, when he edged out Douglas Fisher by less than 200 votes in the August 2008 election.

Until now.

David Marvin, a defense attorney from Lockport Township and the president of the St. Joseph County Bar Association for the past two years, announced his candidacy in April to run against McDonough for the seat. Marvin, up until he announced his candidacy, was a partner at Hines and Marvin, a law office based in Centreville. He left the office due to his candidacy.

Marvin went to law school at Michigan State University and a university in Hong Kong, after getting his undergrad at universities in St. Louis, Mo. and Beijing, China. He said he is running for prosecutor for two reasons. The first is his family background—his grandfather John Marvin was St. Joseph County Clerk for 42 years and his dad Robert Marvin was a county commissioner in the 1980s and 1990s. The second is because, in his opinion, McDonough “has not been held accountable” as prosecutor.

“As a taxpayer, there's a job to do, and it's not getting done,” Marvin said. “I've heard it for years, and I'm sick of hearing it, and finally, I said, ‘What are we going to do? Well, is somebody going to run?’ I went back and forth and thought, I finally have my practice, life is good, I can do what I want, do I want to do this? And after a while, you think, you know what, if that's how you are and it runs in the family blood, yeah, I guess you need to serve and you need to do what you need to do, so I decided to run.”

Marvin said he actually grew up two doors down from McDonough, and played together as kids.

“I still remember him as a kid, he had a really great family, and John is a great guy and he’s got a good heart, and I’ve always liked him and defended him,” Marvin said.

However, as he has had a “front row seat” to the action as a criminal defense lawyer and Bar Association president, he said he heard there was “heavy negativity” toward McDonough from people that work at the courthouse even as far back as his first week on the job, and realized “there was a reason people were complaining.”

He said he’s “embarrassed” by the current reputation the prosecutor’s office has, and called it “a mess,” citing the high turnover rates at the office in the past several years.

“You've got high turnover, you have really talented people who have been upset. You’ve got people who are so upset that they left in high numbers, and they can't keep people there. And there’s a reason for it: because it's a miserable, dysfunctional office,” Marvin said. “Anybody who works there, from the judges, down to the clerks, they all know it. I think, just to eliminate that problem, to improve that, I think the entire courthouse needs a breath of fresh air.”

Marvin said his main goal, if elected, is to “fix” the prosecutor’s office by bringing his leadership experience to the office and “streamlining” the department.

“People follow the leader. If the leader doesn't show up to work or does a half-assed job, or doesn't really care, what do you think everybody's going to do? You've got to be a leader, you have to work hard, and you have to be diligent. You have a job to do, and you have to put forth the effort,” Marvin said. “The relationship between everybody is like law and order. The order side doesn't work, so, okay, law's going to break down if the order side isn't fixed. I'd fix the order side of things, and it's only going to improve the county.”

Marvin said the role of a prosecutor isn’t just about trying cases, which he said he’s “already proved” his ability to do, but it’s also about management. He cited his record in corporate work environments as to why he said he can handle the job of management.

“If there were arguments, I had to deal with that. I had to market, I had to keep clients happy, I had to fix problems, fly all over the place. I think some people are born to do that kind of thing, and I excel at managing people. In that office, that's what it needs,” Marvin said.

During his career, Marvin has worked on some notable cases during his time as an attorney, mainly in St. Joseph County. One of those was the 2017 case of Rodney Moore, who was found not guilty by a jury after being accused of attempted murder, allegedly cutting the throat of Derick Coley during an altercation at a home in Three Rivers. Most recently, he is the attorney for Wade Allen, who is accused of the open murder and mutilation of the body of Kelly-Jien Warner-Miller in November 2019. That case is currently on hold while briefs are prepared on the topic of the search warrant in the case, which was disputed during the last hearing on Feb. 12, with Judge Paul Stutesman ruling that Sturgis police did not use proper procedure, detaining Allen before a warrant was issued.

To some, that track record could suggest he has let those accused of murder, attempted or otherwise, potentially walk free. However, Marvin said, he was only doing what he is constitutionally obligated to do for his clients.

“You have a job to do, and you swear an oath to uphold the Constitution. You've got to do what you have to do. It's my job to defend someone to the best of my ability, that's what I'm going to do, whether I agree with it or not,” Marvin said. “You're not there to make sure that someone who's guilty walks, you're there to make sure that everybody does their job. So, if you're going to take away someone's life, liberty and property, you better make sure you're following the law. That's your primary job. Once you find someone guilty, that's not my concern what the punishment is, that's up to the judge and the people of the state of Michigan. By the time you get him, you can bet he got a really good defense.”

Marvin said he would bring that work ethic to the prosecutor’s role, if elected.

“I have a proven record of leadership, and I'm a self-starter,” Marvin said. “You need someone who's a motivated person who cares and has heart, and will actually do the job they're hired to do, and I will definitely do that.”

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 23 or robert@threeriversnews.com.

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