Login | October 22, 2020

Youngstown criminal defense attorney appointed to CJA Panel

Legal News Reporter

Published: October 8, 2020

He’s made a name for himself as a criminal defense lawyer, handling cases in both state and federal courts in Ohio, now Youngstown sole practitioner Edward Hartwig has been appointed to the Criminal Justice Act (CJA) Panel of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.
Attorneys who serve on the panel are asked to represent defendants who are financially unable to retain their own lawyers. The cases are assigned by federal court judges in the district.
“I am very excited and appreciative that I have been given this opportunity,” said Hartwig, who was added to the panel in August 2020. “I really enjoy practicing in federal court. I have the utmost respect for all the judges, magistrates and other members of the federal bar.”
Criminal defense attorneys interested in becoming members of the panel must submit an application to the District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.
“The CJA panel is important because it provides indigent defendants with the criminal defense promised to them by the U.S. Constitution,” said U.S. District Judge Benita Pearson, chair of the CJA Committee, responsible for reviewing applications and making recommendations to the court. 
To qualify, applicants are required to be in good standing of the federal bar of the Northern District of Ohio and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and must maintain a primary, satellite or shared office in the district.
An attorney also has to possess strong litigation skills, demonstrate proficiency with the federal sentencing guidelines and procedures, the Bail Reform Act, the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and the Federal Rules of Evidence, have significant experience representing defendants charged with serious criminal offenses and be committed to defending those unable to pay for an attorney.
“It is a very serious and in-depth process,” said Hartwig. “I had to list previous federal and state cases I have handled, including the most serious cases I have tried to a jury and name judges and lawyers who could serve as references.”
A Mahoning Valley native, Hartwig received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from John Carroll University in Cleveland.
“When I started college, I had not decided on law,” he said. “I began exploring the legal profession through my psychology courses in my junior year and by my senior year I had made the decision to take the LSAT and go to law school.”
After receiving his juris doctorate from The University of Akron School of Law in 1998, he started as an associate in the civil litigation law firm Wellman, Jeren, Hackett & Skoufatos Co.
“We were a small six-member firm that handled predominantly workers’ compensation, social security disability and personal injury cases. I became a partner and was there for 14 years.
“As a young lawyer, I met a lot of judges and lawyers through our local bar association. I became very good friends with Ron Yarwood, who was also a young lawyer and practicing in criminal defense. I had the opportunity to serve as co-counsel in two murder cases with attorney Yarwood and knew immediately that I wanted to be a criminal defense lawyer.
“The firm allowed me to take on criminal cases, enabling me to gain a lot of experience very quickly. I was able to get my name on the list to do high-level felony cases and eventually I qualified for second chair for representation in death penalty cases.”
In 2012, Hartwig left the firm to start his own practice, Hartwig Law. Located in Boardman, Hartwig recently added a satellite location in Mercer, Pennsylvania, where he also became licensed in 2019. Hartwig Law handles federal and state criminal cases and serious personal injury and medical malpractice cases.
“I’ve represented many indigent defendants over the years,” he said. “I think criminal defense is the most exciting and interesting practice area a lawyer can go into. It has its challenges of course, but I have no regrets in choosing this path”
A longtime member of the Ohio State and Mahoning County Bar associations, Hartwig is a former Mahoning County Bar president and a member of the Board of Trustees, where he has served for approximately 10 years. In addition, Hartwig is a member of the Mahoning County Bar Association’s Criminal Courts and Social committees.
Hartwig is also a longtime member of the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and has been on the board of Community Corrections Association (CCA) for over 10 years. CCA operates residential and nonresidential alternative sentencing programs, which provide a wide range of services to help those who’ve become involved with the criminal justice system to get their lives back on track.
The Canfield Township resident said he decided to apply for the CJA Panel after discussing the opportunity with Mahoning County criminal defense attorney Samuel Amendolara.
“I have been on the CJA Panel for many years and I knew that there were a few openings on the panel,” said Amendolara, who also serves as a part-time magistrate in Mahoning County Juvenile Court. “I see Ed in court all the time since we both practice in the same area. I’ve watched him develop from a young lawyer into a seasoned lawyer. I’ve seen his approach to handling cases and the diligence and hard work he puts in for his clients.
“In my role as magistrate, Ed has come in front of me on a number of occasions. He is always well prepared and on time. I’ve also witnessed Ed’s commitment to the Mahoning County Bar Association. All those factors led me to believe he would make an excellent addition to the panel, so I suggested he apply.”
Now that he’s on the panel, Hartwig can be assigned cases involving defendants charged with federal crimes ranging from narcotics to terrorism.
“I am looking forward to continuing to gain experience in the federal court system by representing as many defendants as possible, whether they are indigent or retain me for my services, as a way to further hone my litigation skills,” said Hartwig.