Supreme Court justice wants year-old case to get moving
Leo Crockwell— File photo
Leo Crockwell claimed he couldn’t hear well, so the judge made himself loud and clear.
“Unless you can come up with something (regarding legal representation), I’m not prepared to sit back and wait forever,” Justice Richard LeBlanc said Thursday when Crockwell’s case was called in Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John’s.
The judge’s stern message came after Crockwell said he still didn’t have a lawyer.
The 56-year-old has been in custody since last December, when he barricaded himself inside his mother’s Bay Bulls home with firearms.
He was arrested after a week-long standoff with police.
He faces several charges for allegedly shooting at police during the incident. Charges of attempted murder were withdrawn earlier this year by the Crown.
Crockwell was denied bail.
He had been represented by
St. John’s defence lawyer Rosellen Sullivan, who had filed an application to halt the case against Crockwell.
But Crockwell fired her two months ago and has represented himself in court since then.
Thursday was no different.
Crockwell was initially sitting in the prisoner’s dock, but when the court’s hearing assistance equipment wouldn’t work, he was told to move up to sit in the lawyers’ front-row chairs, directly in front of the judge.
LeBlanc asked Crockwell if he had retained counsel.
“No, sir,” Crockwell replied.
The judge expressed concern with that, since Crockwell’s jury trial is set to begin Feb. 2. He pointed out that a defence lawyer would need sufficient time to be brought up to speed on the case.
“Do you have any timetable (as to when you will get a lawyer)?” LeBlanc asked.
“No,” Crockwell replied.
“What if it takes six months (to find a lawyer)?” the judge asked.
Crockwell shrugged his shoulders and said he had already dished out thousands of dollars for the lawyer he previously had.
“I want a seasoned lawyer …,” Crockwell said. “I’m not going to have someone practise on my case.”
The judge then seemed impatient with Crockwell’s apparent lack of interest in moving the case along.
“The way this is all progressing is not satisfactory,” LeBlanc said.
He told Crockwell that there are a few options if he doesn’t hire a new lawyer — he can apply to the court to be represented by Legal Aid, get a court-appointed lawyer or have the court to get a lawyer to assist with the case.
“We have to set some kind of deadline …,” LeBlanc said.
“I would think you’d want your trial to be held as soon as possible.”
The judge said Crockwell’s decision not to accept the advice of his lawyer, his decision to fire her and now his procrastination to hire new counsel is slowing things down.
“I’m not happy with that,” LeBlanc said.
Crockwell indicated he couldn’t hear what the judge was saying, but the judge wasn’t buying it.
“I think you can hear a lot more than what you’re letting on, Mr. Crockwell,” LeBlanc shot back.
The judge has called the case back in court next week, at which time he expects Crockwell to have made decisions about legal representation.
LeBlanc suggested the court have a representative from the Legal Aid Commission attend.