Judge appoints impartial adviser after Leo Crockwell again fails to get lawyer

Rosie
Rosie Gillingham
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Leo Crockwell was back in Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John's Friday.Photo by Rosie Gillingham/The Telegram

With Leo Crockwell still lawyerless, a St. John's judge took matters into his own hands Friday.

In Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John's, Justice Richard LeBlanc ruled to appoint an amicus curiae - a friend of the court, or impartial adviser - to assist Crockwell with his upcoming trial.

Crockwell's jury trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 2 and the judge made it clear it will not be postponed if at all possible.

"Your trial will proceed with or without (defence) counsel," LeBlanc said in Newfoundland Supreme Court in St. John's.

Crockwell has been behind bars since December 2010, when he barricaded himself inside his mother's Bay Bulls home with firearms. He was arrested following a weeklong standoff with police.

He faces several firearm charges for allegedly shooting at police during the incident. Charges of attempted murder were withdrawn earlier this year by the Crown.

Crockwell, who was denied bail, had been represented by St. John's defence lawyer Rosellen Sullivan, who had filed an application to halt the case against him.

But he fired her two months ago and has represented himself in court since then.

Crockwell's apparent lack of effort to find a new lawyer has concerned the judge, who wants to ensure the new lawyer has enough time to prepare for the trial.

When the case was called Thursday, LeBlanc arranged for Crockwell to meet with John Duggan of the Newfoundland and Labrador Legal Aid Commission.

Duggan informed the judge Friday that he explained the legal aid process and procedures to Crockwell and also gave him a blank application to fill out.

When the judge asked Crockwell if he filled it out, Crockwell said he didn't. He repeated that he wanted to select his own lawyer.

Crockwell went on to say he was waiting on money he felt he was owed to him by the RCMP, who, he said, destroyed his family's Bay Bulls home.

"They went about and smashed up that house with no one in it, with no warrant," Crockwell said.

LeBlanc explained that whatever that claim is about, it will likely not be settled in time for the trial.

"For whatever reason, I can't seem to get it through to you," the judge said. "Whatever is going on in your life has little to do with what's coming up on Feb. 2."

LeBlanc's decision to appoint an amicus curiae came as a result of several attempts to spur Crockwell to get a lawyer.

"I have tried my best and have given you every opportunity and have given you time," LeBlanc said.

"Now the court has to do something."

LeBlanc went on to say, "It looks like you're going to be on your own when the trial starts. Do you understand that?"

"Yes," Crockwell replied.

LeBlanc continued, "I'm not sure you fully appreciate what's going to happen in February. ... I'm trying to impress upon you that you don't have time to dawdle here. ... It's difficult for me to understand why you're doing what you're doing. ... I can't seem to get you to focus."

The amicus curiae will be a lawyer of the judge's choice who would have full access to all evidence against Crockwell, would advise him in legal matters and participate in the trial.

The goal is to ensure he gets a fair trial.

"I cannot force you to get a lawyer. I can't do anything about that," LeBlanc said. "But I want to ensure, as an unrepresented person, you have assistance.

"The amicus curiae will make sure that whatever should be before a jury will be before a jury."

LeBlanc scheduled the case to return to court Jan. 10.

If Crockwell chooses a lawyer by that time, the judge said, he can inform the court at that time.

rgillingham@thetelegram.com Twitter: @TelyCourt

Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador Legal Aid Commission, RCMP

Geographic location: St. John's, Bay Bulls

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  • PJSTL
    January 03, 2012 - 08:55

    I agree with broad powers. I wouldn,t trust the police either. After being taken from a home at night with no warrant, and locked up with the criminally insane for 140 days. The last time i heard that was called kidnapping as per the definition. Then he was assaulted on his own property by two individuals on another night. hit in the head and left lying facedown in a ditch full of water where he could have easily died. He went to the police and the two individuals got away with it. Gee I wonder why he doesn,t trust the police or the legal system. When you go to them for help and nothing gets done. I wouldn,t trust the police or the legal system either. You can,t call it the justice system as there is no justice here. Not when the lawyer they give you goes by what the court says and not you. When that happens the truth will not come out as the court doesn,t want to hear it. They say the justice system is blind . Well they are deaf to especially when it is something they don,t want to hear.

    • broadpowers
      January 08, 2012 - 16:39

      PJSTL wrote; "They say the justice system is blind. Well they are deaf to especially when it is something they don't want to here." I know the justice system doesn't have to anything, even though they should. When police themselves can use mental health on themselves to avoid disciplinary action, or use the label"Post-Dramatic-Stress-Disorder" to go on paid leave when senior officials abuse them mentally or physically or sexually, then the courts must not let police abuse Provincial Mental Health Act Laws to which we all rely on in order to get those help who are considered incapable and a risk to themselves or others. The Canadian Federal government needs to conduct investigations/reviews of those cases where citizens have been involuntarily committed against their will. There may be cases where incapable persons may get refused treatment, because a capable person (who may not be a risk to themselves or others) may be taking up a bed which could be used for them. We have so many cases in the media, where police have screwed up, where the issue is not to find the truth, but at all cost do what it takes to avoid a lawsuit! The citizens of Canada should open their eyes, they must not be blind as well. I live on the other side of Canada on Vancouver Island, this is becoming a systemic problem, which, I believe is not isolated to a few cases. Regarding the Leo Crockwell case, we shall watch and learn.

  • broadpowers
    December 30, 2011 - 21:09

    JP wrote: "Everyone's a saint until you learn the real truth sometimes." I agree with that statement in part, but let's go back in time, before the Bay Bulls fiasco. Years ago Leo Crockwell was unlawfully arrested by a police constable under the NL Mental Health Act. I think this tarnished Crockwell's image and trust of police. If I was in his shoes after being unlawfully arrested under the MHA, held and drugged for weeks unlawfully I wouldn't come out of the house either. There have been too many citizens (allegedly with mental illness) killed by police in Canada, where police feared what would happen to them, if they didn't shoot to (according to police) defend themselves. I admire ethical police, but that's it. Un-ethical police tarnish the badge everywhere, even when ethical police remain silent, when they see another in uniform screw up. this can't go on, we need to be able to trut our police, or there will be more people like Leo, refusing to co-operate with police for fear of being shot by police without Just cause! Leo, get a lawyer. i recommend Edward Greenspan, and yes he would get the case tossed out of court. Don't focus on what the police did to a house, focus on what they did to you before they came to the house, you know the MHA unlawful arrest.

  • JP
    December 10, 2011 - 09:44

    Here! Here! Justice Leblanc deserves a medal for tackling this difficult case and difficult to deal with accused! If Mr. Crockwell was so concerned about his mother's house then perhaps he should have surrendered to police instead of shooting at them from inside! What a joke! He may indeed be a great person to many people, but those people weren't shot at, allegedly assaulted or confronted by Mr. Crockwell. Everyone's a saint until you learn the real truth sometimes!