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'You're setting them up to be a more productive member of society'

Cary Ashby • Mar 20, 2014 at 9:06 AM

There's a new face in the Huron County prosecutor's office.

Patrick Hakos Jr., 26, is an assistant prosecutor handling most of the juvenile court cases and occasionally some adult ones.

The Brunswick High School graduate studied law and social thought at the University of Toledo. He attended law school at The University of Akron.

Hakos originally was a business major at UT.

"When I started in college, I didn't have plans for (studying law), but once I changed my major, it seemed best. It seemed interesting," he said.

"I love the debating and arguing and researching," said Hakos, who loves the idea of "forming an opinion and making sure you're right."

For three years, he worked for Medina County Prosecutor Dean Holman.

"I was a law clerk and legal intern. ... I worked for him through most of my law-school career," Hakos said.

Hakos was asked what attracted him to Huron County.

"When he (Holman) started out, he worked here as a prosecutor. He said (Huron County) was a great place to start out. He kept it simple and said it's a great county, they're very helpful and (you'll) get a lot of experience," Hakos said.

"Dean gave him a good recommendation," Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler said. "He's from Medina County, so he's not going to be scared off of being in a small county."

Hakos is replacing Jennifer DeLand, who was in the prosecutor's office for about 10 years.

Her last official day was Jan. 3. DeLand now serves as in-house counsel for a Columbus business.

"He's got a very big job to fill," Leffler said about Hakos. "Jen was a very good prosecutor. Of course, she had done it for 10 years, so he has big shoes to fill."

Twenty-five people applied for the position and 10 of the candidates had interviews.

Leffler gave Hakos and the other candidates a test in which they addressed a criminal case and had to decide what charges would be appropriate and what difficulties authorities faced. The case involved former Collins resident Garry D. Ellis Jr., 21, who is serving 12 years in prison for aggravated robbery.

The armed robbery happened Oct. 24 in a Hartland Township cemetery. Ellis pulled a gun on a male victim and made him walk into a small shelter before he drove away from the scene. The defendant's girlfriend, Shannon N. Roe, will be sentenced May 1 for lying to investigators about the whereabouts of Ellis.

"He did well on that (test)," Leffler said, referring to Hokas. "He's the son of a firefighter, so he has some law-enforcement leanings."

Hakos' first day on the job was Feb. 24.

"Dina (Shenker) helped me get comfortable with everything," said Hakos, who now feels good about his job duties.

Shenker handles tax collection and foreclosures plus some juvenile and adult cases for the prosecutor's office.

"Everybody has been really helpful, really nice. I definitely feel very welcome here," said Hakos, who is a member of the American, Ohio State and Huron County bar associations.

When asked what's the most challenging part of handling juvenile cases, Hakos said it's often the subject matter itself.

"It can be sad. You can see kids in a very difficult situation and you want to help," he added.

Hakos said he "definitely" believes he's helping juveniles through his job.

"You're setting them up to be a more productive member of society before they start committing more serious offenses," he said.

What Hakos finds most fulfilling is helping juveniles involved in dependency and abuse cases by putting them in a safer and more stable environment.

Hakos eventually wouldn't mind being a county prosecutor.

"I'm just taking it a day at a time," he said.

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