Trevor Pardy granted appeal for his choice of lawyer

A man facing murder charges in the death of his former girlfriend won an appeal on Friday to have a lawyer of his choosing represent him at trial.
Trevor Pardy won his appeal to have the Attorney General pay for a lawyer of his choice. Pardy is charged with first-degree murder in the death of his former girlfriend Triffie Wadman. (CBC )

A man facing murder charges in the death of his former girlfriend won an appeal on Friday to have a lawyer of his choosing represent him at trial.

Trevor Pardy, who is accused of shooting and killing Triffie Wadman in October 2011, was granted his request in an appeal to the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Pardy had requested extra money to pay for a private lawyer, and refused to accept a lawyer through the Legal Aid Commission. A Supreme Court judge had turned down Pardy's request in November 2013.

However, a panel of five judges granted the request in a 3-2 decision in the appeals court on Friday.

A lawyer appointed by Legal Aid had represented Pardy at his preliminary inquiry, but Pardy fired the lawyer the day before the evidence was to be called in court, citing irreconcilable differences.

People want to associate it with just getting higher rates. It's not only that, it's an access to justice issue.- Lawyer Bob Buckingham

Pardy then interviewed other lawyers, but said he was unable to form a solicitor-client relationship with any of them. He then wanted to find a private lawyer, but none would take the case for the $60 per hour rate Legal Aid would pay.

Pardy then filed a request to seek a private lawyer, to be paid for by the attorney general. The application was denied in 2013. Friday's ruling was a result of Pardy's appeal of that decision.

Pardy is facing charges of first-degree murder, as well as firearms offences.

'It's not cheap to defend yourself'

St. John's lawyer Bob Buckingham, who will now be representing Pardy, said his client was "very pleased" with the appeal court's decision.

"He's been dealing with this for three years now — I just had one opportunity to explain it to him. He was very emotional, in fact, that this was finally going to be moved ahead and the matter moved forward," said Buckingham.
St. John's lawyer Bob Buckingham says the province's largest health authority is too lackadaisical when it comes to protecting the privacy of its patients and employees. (CBC)

According to Buckingham, who said he's been working on the issue of counsel of choice for almost 20 years, said accused people getting the defence of their choice isn't just about higher rates than Legal Aid can provide.

"People want to associate it with just getting higher rates. It's not only that, it's an access to justice issue. I'm very pleased with this decision," he said.

"It looks at, and gives a very thorough analysis of, the Legal Aid Act, the new amendments to the Legal Aid Act, and what rights that provides to people in order to be able to retain private counsel from the private bar, from the private defence bar, when you're charged with serious offences under the Criminal Code — primarily manslaughter, murder and infanticide."

Buckingham said while this means accused will be able to seek counsel at a higher rate than Legal Aid, he isn't concerned about any impact on the public purse.

"You know, justice is expensive — things that change in this country in terms of defences, in terms of science, how accused people have to prepare for cases with the use of experts — it's not cheap to defend yourself in the courts in this country," said Buckingham.

"With respect to Legal Aid, this decision sets out a process whereby it looks like the government, when it comes to providing funds for counsel in serious offences, the government is going to have to provide Legal Aid with more money. If they don't, then people will be making applications to the courts for a court-appointed counsel paid by the attorney general."

Buckingham said an arraignment hearing will likely be held on Nov. 3, and court dates will be set at that time.

He added that he thinks the trial will be able to move forward in the courts in the early winter, in either January or February.