A man accused of gunning down his girlfriend will decide soon whether or not he will appeal a judge’s decision that ruled that his lawyer must be paid at legal-aid rates.
“Obviously, he’s very disappointed,” Bob Buckingham told The Telegram Thursday, shortly after he spoke with Trevor Pardy at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary. “This is a very serious issue.”
Buckingham represented Pardy in a four-day hearing held at Newfoundland Supreme Court last month to argue the merits of Pardy’s application.
Pardy applied to have the attorney general cover the cost of his private counsel at a rate of pay above what the Legal Aid Commission allows.
Legal Aid has already approved funding for Pardy to cover the cost of private counsel at legal-aid rates or a legal aid staff lawyer. Pardy has argued the legal-aid rate of $60 per hour is too low to obtain an experienced lawyer to represent him.
But in a decision handed down Thursday, Justice James Adams disagreed and denied the application.
“I am satisfied that there are a number of legal aid staff lawyers with sufficient experience and expertise who are available and willing to represent Mr. Pardy on the charges he is facing,” Adams said in his written decision.
“He has not satisfied me on any objective basis either under the court’s inherent jurisdiction, the Charer, or any statutory provision that on the balance of probabilities his right to a fair trial would be detrimentally affected by such representation.
“An accused does not have to like a lawyer to be able to form a reasonable solicitor/client relationship. ... “I am satisfied that any competent, experienced criminal lawyer could ensure that Mr. Pardy receives a fair trial.”
But Pardy claims he hasn’t been able to establish a good relationship with any of the legal aid lawyers he’s met with.
He wants Buckingham. Buckingham, however, refuses to do it at such a low pay.
“It’s a murder trial,” Buckingham said. “I can’t do a murder trial on a legal aid certificate.”
Pardy has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the shooting death of Triffie Wadman, his former girlfriend, who was killed Oct. 1, 2011, in St. John's. He was arrested that day and has been in custody ever since.
His trial had been set to start this month, but was delayed due to the legal representation issues. A new date won't be set until that is resolved.
The case will be called again in court Dec. 2. Lawyers had hoped to set trial dates at that time, but it may depend on what Pardy decides.
“He’s going to take the night to read over the judge’s decision and analyze it,” Buckingham said.
“There are a whole bunch of things he has to consider. By tomorrow, he’ll have a lot more information he can weigh and make some decisions about whether he will get other counsel or appeal the judge’s decision.
“These are major issues and we can’t make decisions on it on a moment’s notice.”