Senior Madera County Deputy District Attorney Paul J. Hornick, 39, painted a bleak picture of the DA’s office March 20 when he spoke to a small crowd at a Mountain Area Conservative Forum meeting at Yosemite Gateway Restaurant.
He has worked for Madera County District Attorney David Linn for about three years.
After providing his background in the Army, his experience as a prosecuting attorney, both in Florida and California, it didn’t take long for a member of the audience to ask Hornick what he thought about the alleged conduct of Linn in the office that brought on an investigation and a report which said Linn made derogatory, sexist, and racial comments which were reported by members of his staff.
“It’s true that I have personally heard some of those comments,” Hornick said. “The 10 people who talked to the investigators are not making this stuff up. If you’re not working in this office, it’s almost impossible to believe what you would hear from Mr. Linn. At some point people need to be free from verbal harassment which has been an issue in this office. The DA office continues to struggle with leadership and leadership-related issues.”
Hornick said there are a lot of good people in the office but they really need leadership which is not happening now.
“My leadership philosophy comes from the Army, and I feel new leadership is needed in the current DA office,” Hornick said. “I would not ask anyone to do anything that I would not be willing to do myself. Mr. Linn does not lead by example, and the people of Madera County need someone who will focus on the issues with proven leadership experience and unquestioned integrity.”
“We need some order to the present chaos,” Hornick continued. “There are attorney’s in the office that do not have any cases and there is not a tracking system in the office to keep track of case files. Nothing will change in this office unless the change is made at the ballot box.”
He said running against his boss has created some challenges and at times has been unpleasant.
“Mr. Linn has called me into his office, or stopped into my office, told me that I am “ruining everything” by entering the race, and he’s also insinuated that my work is inaccurate or incomplete,” Hornick said. “These types of allegations never occurred prior to the challenge.”
Hornick was asked about the on-going feud between Linn and the board of supervisors that has escalated to Linn and his wife, Betty, filing a $15 million ‘claim for damages’ for being subjected to a hostile work environment, and has suffered emotional distress, defamation, liable and slander, and loss of reputation by the board for releasing the investigative report with the intent to destroy his efforts to run for re-election.
“I have not seen any evidence of wrongdoing by the supervisors because those files are locked up, but I do believe the Attorney General’s office is being forced to do what our office should be doing,” Hornink said. “I feel if I’m elected the supervisors would be willing to make some investments in this office, but I don’t think they will do that as long as Mr. Linn is in office - they don’t trust him.”
He said he would cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when it comes to immigration laws. “It’s a federal law that supersedes state and county law. It’s a federal mandate and I would corporate with ICE.”
“I’m self-funded and will not be beholdin’ to anyone, Hornick said. “Myself and family members have contributed $30,000 to my campaign. I’m working hard going door-to-door every weekend.”
He said he recently finished the trial of Donald Edward Anderson, 62, who was found guilty in December of Driving Under the Influence of Zanax, fleeing the scene of an accident and failing to appear in court after an accident on Highway 41 and Ave. 12 in February, 2017, seriously injuring two people. Hornick said Anderson is facing an 11 year sentence.
Also in the June 5 Primary Election race is Sally Moreno, who worked in the Madera County DA’s office between 2011 and July of 2015, when she was offered a a job with the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office.
In her tenure as a prosecutor, Moreno has worked in a variety of cases including domestic violence, child sexual assault, DUIs and gangs.
Her most notable case in the Mountain Area was the arson trial of Kenneth Jackson and Allison Waterman, sentenced to more than 30 and 10 years in prison, respectively, for starting more than 20 fires in Yosemite Lakes Park in May and June of 2013.
Marc Sobel, who along with Nokomis Hernandez, is running against incumbent Tom Wheeler for his Madera County District 5 supervisor seat, also spoke at the meeting.
He said he is looking to unseat Wheeler and it time for transparency.
“District 5 needs someone who is disconnected with special interest groups,” Sobel said. “Mr. Wheeler has raised about $400,000 over the years and he owes a lot of people a lot of favors.”
“Mr. Wheeler was presented a petition with 300 signatures on it against the planned ‘round-a-bout’ in North Fork and he ignored it,” Sobel said.
He said he won’t have as many signs as Wheeler, because Wheeler has special interests paying for his, but feels he has a real chance to win.
“I’m hearing from a lot of people who are going to vote for me and I’m picking up support one-by-one.”