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Cops and Courts

Defendant gets court-appointed attorney, but judge questions competency

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    Martin Robinson



ELYRIA — Martin Robinson will get his court-appointed attorney, however due to his actions and behavior in court, a judge has ordered the defendant to undergo an evaluation to see whether he is competent to stand trial.

Robinson, 40, of Sheffield Lake, was indicted on 22 felony counts for allegedly shooting and seriously wounding Amherst police Officer Eugene Ptacek last May during a SWAT standoff at Robinson’s home.

On Jan. 11, a hearing was held on whether Robinson should be granted a court-appointed attorney despite prosecutors’ claim Robinson has more than $300,000 in assets and can afford an attorney.

Last week, Judge Chris Cook ruled on the motion and “reluctantly” granted Robinson’s motion by appointing attorney John Toth to represent Robinson.

However, Cook stated that Robinson has “demonstrated by his conduct and statements at least some concern relative to his competency,” and ordered the defendant to undergo an evaluation to determine whether he is competent to stand trial.

Prosecutors said Robinson received a settlement of nearly $1 million in 2012 after suing the city of Cleveland for police brutality in federal court. He also reportedly receives $2,600 per month in Social Security or other disability benefits, prosecutors said.

Robinson was said to have at least $300,000 in assets as of June, according to the state, and he was ordered to complete a financial affidavit to determine whether he had funds to retain his own attorney.

“At the hearing … the defendant advised that he would not complete the financial affidavit, that he had no money and no access to his funds and that he did not even know how much money he had,” court documents said. “The defendant also stated that the state ‘robbed him’ and violated his privacy rights by having knowledge of his resources.”

Robinson told Cook that attorneys would not return his calls from jail and that the lawyers he spoke to about retaining them wanted $30,000, “which he deemed ‘outrageous,’” according to court documents. Prosecutors argued there was a difference between being “unable” and “unwilling” to retain counsel.

The Ohio Supreme Court, though, has said that counsel is usually appointed when the defendant is indigent and can’t afford to retain an attorney. According to Cook’s ruling, however, that’s not the only determining factor.

“When an accused is financially able, in whole or in part, to obtain the assistance of counsel, but is unable to do so for whatever reason, appointed counsel must be provided,” a Supreme Court ruling from 1975, which was quoted in Cook’s ruling, said.

“At the end of the day, given the totality of the facts before the court, the governing law on this issue and this court’s concerns about the defendant’s competency, I have no choice but to err on the side of caution and reluctantly appoint counsel,” Cook said in the ruling.

Cook said his concerns for Robinson’s competency stem from “his explanations and statements to the court (being) disjointed and confusing.” Robinson often went off topic and tried to discuss issues that were “irrelevant to the issue at hand,” and he also “leapt from (the) trial table towards the prosecutor whom the defendant accused of ‘staring’ at him,” Cook said.

Robinson is next scheduled to appear in court Feb. 7, according to court records. He is being held in Lorain County Jail on $2 million bond, according to jail records.

Contact Scott Mahoney at (440) 329-7146 or Follow him on Twitter @SMahoneyCT.

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