New Brunswick

Judge replaced in case of accused Fredericton shooter

Chief Justice of Court of Queen's Bench Tracey DeWare presided over the 20-minute hearing, and explained Ferguson will no longer be part of the case.

Justice Larry Landry of Campbellton will take the place of Justice Fred Ferguson

Matthew Raymond's case will now be handled by Justice Larry Landry. (Ed Hunter/CBC)

The judge presiding over Matthew Vincent Raymond's case has been replaced without explanation.

On Friday, court was expected to hear an application from defence lawyer Nathan Gorham for Justice Fred Ferguson to recuse himself because of alleged bias.

Instead, Chief Justice of the Court of Queen's Bench Tracey DeWare presided over the 20-minute hearing and said Ferguson will no longer be part of the case.

She did not give a reason. 

Raymond is charged in the shooting deaths of Const. Sara Burns, Const. Robb Costello, Donnie Robichaud and Bobbie Lee Wright. They were killed on the morning of Aug. 10, 2018, at an apartment building on Brookside Drive in Fredericton.

"Justice Ferguson's designation ... has been retired and a new judge will be appointed to look after the case management of this trial and the trials themselves," DeWare said.

DeWare said she will be signing the case over to Justice Larry Landry of Campbellton. He will preside over a teleconference on Aug. 4. 

Justice Fred Ferguson was not present in court Friday. Chief Justice of Court of Queen's Bench Tracey DeWare sat at the bench instead. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)

DeWare said Gorham's application for recusal is "now moot" so it's not necessary to deal with this application "now or in the future."

The defence never filed the brief elaborating on the application, which alleged Ferguson's conduct during pre-trial hearings "demonstrated bias." It's not clear if Ferguson is no longer on the case directly because of this application or for another reason.

As of Friday, the fitness hearing set for Aug. 17 and the trial set for Sept. 28 remain on the schedule.

Raymond has been in custody since he was arrested the day of the shootings.

Gorham said he's looking forward to getting to trial because his client has been held at the Restigouche Hospital Centre and receiving involuntary treatment for at least 10 months.

"Mr. Raymond is anxious to get to trial," he said in an interview. "We're thankful that we're on the homestretch here and hopefully we'll be getting a trial soon."

Friday's hearing was held at the Fredericton Convention Centre, where all Queen's Bench cases have been taking place to maintain physical distancing.

In an interview outside the convention centre, Gorham said he's not concerned about the switch in judges delaying things, but is worried about the impact of the pandemic on jury selection. 

"I'm concerned that in terms of selecting the jury safely, there's only a limited number of jurors that can come in. And so hopefully the process can be done in a way that allows us to get the full jury and the case isn't delayed for that reason." 

DeWare said approximately 450 people were summonsed, and will be pre-screened on Aug. 11 to get 150 people. That is the maximum number of people the convention centre can accommodate while maintaining physical distancing.

Three new applications

Gorham formally filed three new applications Thursday. The first is asking to be able to give an opening address to the jury at the beginning of the criminal trial.

The second is an application to admit evidence from a forensic psychiatrist, and the third is for the judge to take into account certain admissions from the defence to  quicken the trial process.

Gorham said his client was willing to admit to certain elements, so "the jury can spend their valuable time keying on the issues that are really in dispute, rather than hearing things that are unnecessary,"

Defence lawyer Nathan Gorham says he's not concerned about the change of judges causing a delay. (Ed Hunter/CBC)

In court, DeWare said these applications should be heard by Landry.

"Many of those things also may be properly dealt with in between the fitness trial and the trial proper, depending on how things unfold," DeWare said.

According to the federal department of justice website, Landry has experience in civil litigation, municipal law, criminal law, family law, and corporate law. He was the chair of the New Brunswick Review Board from 2012 until at least 2015. Raymond has been before the review board several times, and was recently prescribed mandatory antipsychotic medication by the board to last all through the fitness hearing and criminal trial.


Hadeel Ibrahim is a reporter with CBC New Brunswick based in Saint John. She reports in English and Arabic. Email: