Court says no to attorney request

By joe gorman


A municipal court magistrate refused requests by two defendants being arraigned to have court-appointed attorneys because they both had large amounts of cash when they were arrested.

Magistrate Anthony Sertick denied the requests Monday by Emanuel Cofield, 37, of Warren, and Daniel Hapsic, 23, of Niles, as both were arraigned for separate incidents that happened Friday.

Cofield was arraigned on drug charges after he was stopped by a trooper from the Canfield Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol on Interstate 680 for a cracked windshield. When the trooper went to Cofield’s SUV, he smelled marijuana and ordered Cofield out of the vehicle.

Another trooper arrived and they found a pill and some burnt marijuana. Cofield was arrested and taken to the Mahoning County jail, where he was arraigned by video and asked for a court-appointed attorney.

Sertick asked him a number of routine questions that inmates who ask for an attorney are asked, such as if he had a job, owned any real estate or vehicles, or had a checking or savings account. He answered no to most of the questions, and said he had a miniscule amount in one of his bank accounts. He said his family supports him and he does odd jobs for a landscaping service to get by.

Sertick was about to grant the motion when he read the report and noticed that Cofield had $1,300 on him when he was arrested. He then changed his mind.

“For a guy that has no job and with no other assets, unless you have some very good reason for having $1,300 cash in your pocket, you may not have court-appointed counsel,” Sertick said.

Cofield said the money was from his aunt, and he was using it to pay his rent, utilities, and to take care of his children. He has 21 children, said Walter Ritchie, the attorney for defendants at the arraignments. Sertick said, however, he could not approve a court-appointed lawyer for Cofield. Sertick gave him a bond of $5,000 cash or surety.

City police arrested Hapsic about 8:35 p.m. Friday in front of a home on West Evergreen Avenue on the South Side. Reports said he was driving a car that made an improper turn and was pulled over. When officers walked up, they could see a spoon used for taking heroin with heroin residue. When he was searched, police found two pieces of heroin inside folded up paper and $8,810.

Hapsic was arraigned after Cofield, and Sertick warned him not to ask for an attorney after Ritchie said he would request one. Hapsic said he had just received an accident settlement for $10,000 and was going to use the remaining money to buy a car for about $8,300.

“You’re going to have to use some of that to hire a lawyer,” Sertick said.

Sertick gave Hapsic a bond of $7,500 cash or surety.

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