A prominent St. John's law firm has been permitted to withdraw from a high-profile murder trial.

Bob Simmonds and his firm have been representing David Folker for almost two years.

Folker is charged with second-degree murder in the 2010 death of his girlfriend, Ann Marie Shirran.

On Thursday, Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court Justice Wayne Dymond granted the application to withdraw.


David Folker is charged with second-degree murder in connection with the 2010 death of his girlfriend, Ann Marie Shirran. (CBC)

An application to the court noted that Simmonds and colleague Rosellen Sullivan "owing to previously unforeseeable professional and personal circumstances ... are no longer in a position to represent David Folker in this matter."

Simmonds said the application is connected to issues with his own law firm, and that his relationship with Folker has been fine.

"What I can clearly put on the record — and I did put this on the record, and I want no misunderstanding with anybody — this is not a breakdown of the solicitor-client relationship," he told CBC News.

"David Folker has been a model client. He's been on bail. He's working. This is no way is precipitated by anything Mr. Folker did whatsoever. This was a problem that was internal to our firm."

Not guilty plea

Folker has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

A legal aid representative, John Duggan, told the court that Folker has a new lawyer in mind.

Duggan said that because this is a murder trial, Folker will in fact have two lawyers.

The matter is back in court Nov. 1.

Folker was charged in September 2010, days after campers had found the decomposing remains of Shirran near Cappahayden, about 100 kilometres south of where she had been living in the Kilbride area of St. John's.

Shirran had last been seen alive on July 18, 2010, at her home.