The final decision on whether a murder suspect’s lawyer will be paid private-lawyer rates rather than Legal Aid rates is in the hands of five judges.
The panel was on the bench at the Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal in St. John’s Thursday for Trevor Pardy’s appeal hearing.
Pardy, charged with first-degree murder, is challenging a judge’s decision that ruled his lawyer of choice must be paid at Legal Aid rates.
Pardy wants defence lawyer Bob Buckingham to represent him, but Buckingham refuses to do it at Legal Aid rates. Pardy is looking to have the province’s attorney general pay Buckingham at private-lawyer rates.
Pardy appeared in court via video link from Her Majesty’s Penitentiary, while he was represented in court by lawyers Kier O’Flaherty and Ian Kelly.
Lawyers Peter Ralph and David Rodgers were there to present the province government’s side.
Buckingham had represented Pardy in October 2013 during a hearing to argue Pardy’s application.
The province’s Legal Aid Commission has approved funding for Pardy to cover the cost of private counsel at Legal Aid rates, or to supply a Legal Aid lawyer, but Pardy argued the Legal Aid rate of $60 per hour is too low to obtain an experienced lawyer.
However, Justice James Adams denied the application. He said there are a number of Legal Aid lawyers with sufficient experience and expertise who are available and willing to represent Pardy.
Pardy has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the shooting death of Triffie Wadman, his former girlfriend, on Oct. 1, 2011 in St. John's. He has been in custody since then.
His trial had been set to start in December 2013, but was delayed due to his legal representation issues.
Pardy’s trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 4, 2014. Jury selection will be held the day before.
About a half-dozen of Wadman’s family members were in court to hear the appeal Thursday, as were a few members of Pardy’s family.
The five-member panel — which consisted of Chief Justice David Orsborn, Justice Michael Harrington, Justice Charles White, Justice Gale Welsh and Justice Malcolm Rowe — gave no time period as to when they would render their decision.