20 July 2011

Rumpole and the Cardinal Rule

St. John’s lawyer Averill Baker is pissed that the Crown prosecutor is trying to remove her from a case because she represented the victim in the savage beating her current client is accused of visiting on his head.

He’s facing a second degree murder charge for allegedly shooting his accomplice in a botched armed robbery.  The fellow is also facing an attempted murder charge for the beating of baker’s former client.

Lisa Stead sent Baker a letter. According to Baker, Stead wrote that she will ask a judge to remove Baker if she shows up in court representing the fellow accused of .

Seems the Crown tucked the fellow in in 2005 for possession of stolen goods and possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking.  Baker represented him at the time. 

What’s more, Stead advised Baker that she may be called as a witness in the case.

A couple of things stand out from the CBC account of this and Baker’s comments.

First, she says that she represented the victim in the current case  for “half a day” in 2005 and therefore knows nothing else about the fellow and his life.  While there may be no connection between the brief appearance in court and the conviction, the two things don’t look good together. 

Baker might have been better off walking from the current case given the fairly obvious conflict of interest.  Any cross examination of the victim in the current case would be fraught with problems.  On the face of it, one would be hard pressed to see how that would do her current client any good.

But second and perhaps more important than anything else, there’s the line at the end of the CBC story:

Baker said if the Crown comes up with other charges to attempt to make her be a witness, she will apply to Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court to rule on malicious prosecution.

This suggests that – contrary to her earlier assertion – Baker may know something of her former client’s business or his relationship with the fellow she now represents that she claims.  The charges mentioned here seem to be related to Baker, not her current or former client.

Let’s hope someone at CBC misunderstood.

Otherwise, the implication for Baker’s client is one thing.

The implication for Baker is another, and it is not good.

Not good at all.

In fact, the implications are so serious this might be a case where the lawyer needs to get some legal advice before saying another word.  There’s a reason why lawyers often advise their clients to first of all follow the cardinal rule:  shut the f*ck up.

- srbp -