Day in Court
Published 10:30 am Thursday, March 26, 2009
When 12 people, many of whom are related by blood or marriage or connected by friendship, are all arrested at the same time on similar charges, it can be difficult finding enough attorneys to appoint to handle all those cases.
Lawrence County Common Pleas Judge Charles Cooper ran into that problem Wednesday while arraigning Loretta Thompson, 51, of Ironton.
Thompson was arrested last week with her brother, James Fugett, her daughter, Stacy Thompson and Thompson’s boyfriend, Christopher Adkins, who all live in at 2430 S. Eighth St., along with a 12-year-old boy who was also charged with a drug offense through juvenile court.
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Attorney D.L. McWhorter represented Loretta Thompson at the arraignment and entered a plea of not guilty on her behalf but he told Cooper he would have a conflict of interest going forward because he represents the 12-year-old boy who is related to Loretta Thompson.
To avoid conflict of interest and to best represent the best interest of a client, lawyers usually do not represent two people who are arrested in connection with the same case.
Cooper asked Mike Gleichauf, who was in the back of the courtroom preparing to represent someone else, if he could take Loretta Thompson’s case.
Gleichauf couldn’t. He represents Christopher Adkins. Neither could Warren Morford, who represents James Fugett.
“Can you take this, Ms. Hampton?” Cooper asked attorney Carol Jean Hampton.
“I represent Stacy Thompson, your honor,” Hampton replied.
“I think Philip Heald might be available,” Gleichauf suggested.
“I think Tyler Smith might be available. I just had him in here on another case,” Cooper added. The judge set Loretta Thompson’s bond at $50,000 cash or $100,000 property and scheduled an April 1 pretrial conference.
Stacy Thompson, 32, followed her mother in Cooper’s courtroom and pleaded not guilty with Hampton’s assistance to two counts of endangering children and one count of complicity to aggravated trafficking in drugs. Cooper set a $50,000 cash bond and ordered her to return to court April 1, just as her mother must, for her pretrial conference.
Fugett, 48, pleaded not guilty to three counts of aggravated trafficking in drugs as well as single counts of complicity to trafficking in drugs and corrupting another with drugs through his attorney, Warren Morford.
Cooper continued a lower court bond and set an April 1 pretrial conference.
Adkins, 33, pleaded not guilty through Gleichauf, who is also his attorney, to two counts each of complicity to trafficking in drugs and aggravated trafficking in drugs and one count of corrupting another with drugs.
Cooper set a $50,000 cash bond and ordered Adkins to return to court April 1 as well for his pretrial conference.
Danial Cox, 37, of 2308 S. Ninth St., Ironton, who was arrested the same night as the Ferguson clan, pleaded not guilty through Hampton, who is also his attorney, to three counts of aggravated trafficking in drugs.
Cooper allowed a $50,000 cash bond set in Ironton Municipal Court to continue. Cox’s wife, Dana, who was also indicted on drug charges, will be arraigned at a later date.
In another drug case, Alan Combs, 29, of 719 Vine St., Ironton, pleaded not guilty through D.L. McWhorter, who is also his attorney, to four counts of trafficking in drugs and one count each of tampering with evidence and endangering children.
Cooper set a $100,000 bond and scheduled an April 19 pretrial conference. His wife, Shirley Combs, pleaded guilty through Gleichauf, who is also her attorney, to five counts of permitting drug abuse as well as single counts of endangering children and aggravated trafficking in drugs.
Cooper allowed a bond set in Ironton Municipal Court to continue and ordered her to come back to court April 1 for a pretrial conference. Ronald McSorley, 20, also of 719 Vine St., pleaded not guilty through his attorney, Warren Morford, to aggravated trafficking in drugs.
Bowling set an OR bond of $25,000 with GPS monitoring and scheduled an April 8 pretrial conference.
Emily Gipson, 24, of 2523 S. Third St., pleaded not guilty through her attorney, Mike Davenport, to charges of tampering with evidence and endangering children.
Judge D. Scott Bowling set a $20,000 own recognizance (OR) bond with electronic monitoring and ordered her to return to court April 22 for a pretrial conference.
Paul D. Lewis Jr., 27, also of 2523 S. Third St., Ironton, pleaded not guilty through his attorney, Mike Gleichauf, to one count each of aggravated possession of drugs, tampering with evidence and misdemeanor endangering children.
Both he and Gipson are alleged to have sold drugs with their children in the home.
“What is the situation with the children?” Bowling wanted to know before going any further with the case.
“Mr. Lewis’ father is taking care of the children at this time,” Gleichauf replied.
Bowling set a $20,000 OR bond with the GPS monitoring and ordered Lewis to return to court April 8 for a pretrial conference.
In another matter, Charles Newcomb, 38, of 64 Township Road 181, Ironton, pleaded not guilty through his attorney, Derick Fisher, to one count of aggravated trafficking in marijuana, one count of possession of marijuana and one count of tampering with evidence.
Bowling allowed a $75,000 property bond posted in Ironton Municipal Court to continue and added a $20,000 OR bond to it. Bowling told Newcomb to be back in court April 15 for a pretrial conference.
His alleged cohort, Thurman Harshbarger III pleaded not guilty through his attorney, Mike Davenport, to charges of aggravated trafficking in marijuana and possession of marijuana.
Bowling set an OR bond of $25,000 and ordered GPS monitoring. Harshbarger must return to court April 15 for a pretrial conference.
Harshbarger and Newcomb are accused of having their shipment of marijuana sent to them from Texas via Federal Express.