The lawyer for a Cornwall, Ont., woman who gave birth on the floor of an Ottawa jail cell has quit and hopes another lawyer will take over her case.

Julie Bilotta, 26, gave birth prematurely on Sept. 29, complaining at the time that her pleas for help were ignored. The incident sparked outrage across the country and was described by women's groups as just another example of the harsh conditions women endure behind bars in Canada.

Bilotta told CBC News Wednesday she planned to plead guilty to fraud charges in a Cornwall court Thursday, which she said would see her and her baby released from custody.

But the woman and her baby will remain at an Ottawa halfway house after her case was held over to March 14.

Her lawyer, Don Johnson, is no longer representing Bilotta and she is asking Ottawa lawyer, Lawrence Greenspon, to take over, he told CBC News.

Greenspon is already representing Bilotta in a pending lawsuit in civil court in relation to the premature birth. He said he is considering taking over the criminal case, as well.

Bilotta is in custody on fraud and drug trafficking charges, but she had said she planned to plead guilty to some of the charges in a plea deal.

She had also expected to face six months of house arrest and some other conditions, thus avoiding a trial, but that fell through.

2 investigations ongoing into jail birth

Ontario's Corrections ministry has also opened a formal disciplinary proceeding after receiving a report on Bilotta's case where she gave birth while in a segregation cell at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre.


Julie Bilotta is seen here with her son, Gionni Lee, and her boyfriend, the father of the baby. (Submitted photo)

The Ontario College of Nurses is investigating the incident, as well.

Shortly after the Bilotta baby was born, a nurse at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre was suspended with pay. It's not clear whether she is the only employee facing potential discipline.

Bilotta said jail staff didn't believe she was in labour and ignored her pleas until it was too late to go to hospital. She gave birth to a boy, Gionni Lee Garlow, on the cement floor of her cell.

She was granted bail in mid-October under strict conditions, including that she live with her son at an Ottawa halfway house.

Bilotta was also ordered not to use street drugs or associate with anyone with a criminal record or who uses drugs or alcohol. She was ordered to participate in counselling programs.

With files from The Canadian Press