Still no lawyer for Ricketts

| 04/07/2009

(CNS): One of the men accused of murdering Estella Scott-Roberts is still without representation only weeks away from the trial. While the Legal Aid issue over the payment of lead counsel has now been resolved, Larry Ricketts still has no local junior legal representation on island. Justice Alex Henderson was forced to adjourn the case for a further seven days on Friday to see if a lawyer could be found to represent him locally but refrained from striking out the current trial date, which remains set for August.

Following ongoing problems regarding representation for the two men accused of the murder, the court heard on 3 July that Ricketts’ co-defendant Kirkland Henry has now been granted a legal aid certificate to secure the services of a Queens Counsel from Jamaica and that local defence attorney Ben Tonner was continuing as his local junior counsel.

Although Ricketts has now been allocated legal aid to cover his representation needs, including a QC, he has yet to secure a junior barrister to take his case and who would in turn approach lead counsel on his behalf.

Justice Henderson queried why John Furniss, the barrister who had originally taken Ricketts’ case, had been forced to come off record and raised his concern that, with the limited number of barristers doing criminal defence work in Cayman, counsel should not be coming off record over disagreements but only over fundamental or ethical problems.

Justice Henderson asked Tonner if he knew if there was an ethical difficulty with Furniss and requested that he ask Furniss to reconsider and talk to him about representing Ricketts. Tonner explained that he was not aware of the details but he could confirm that Furniss had been given leave to come off record. He said that, while he would pass on the message, he felt that Jennifer King, who deals with legal aid applications, would be better placed to establish if Furniss could return to the record and represent Ricketts or whether another defence barrister was available.  

Henderson indicated clearly that he would like Furniss to return to Ricketts’ case. “It is one thing to withdraw over a disagreement and being forced to withdraw,” Henderson noted, adding that he felt coming off record over a dispute in how the case would be presented was not really acceptable. Henderson indicated that he believed too many defendants were dismissing counsel because they did not like what they were being told. He explained that a client determines certain issues such as the plea, but when it comes to tactics then it is the barrister that makes those decisions and they should be saying ‘no’ more often when clients were asking to dismiss when offered pessimistic predictions.

Tonner requested that the judge turn his attention, in the meantime, to the trial date, which he said was wholly unrealistic given the circumstance as it was scheduled for the first week of August. However, Justice Henderson said he was reluctant to vacate the date at that time and wanted to wait one more week to see if counsel could be retained for Ricketts before he considered the need of changing the trial date.

During the morning’s Grand Court mentions, the lack of legal representation was raised on a number of occasions causing adjournments and delays to several cases, both for Grand Court matters and Summary Court appeals. As a result, Justice Henderson said he wanted to see Jennifer King attend the Grand Court in future during mentionsso that she could be aware of all the cases being referred to her where there was a problem with defence counsel.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Headline News

Comments (1)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Lorrie Furniss says:

    John Furniss has a daughter a few years younger than Estella Scott Roberts.  It is not appropriate from a moral and a safety standpoint for Mr. Furniss to have any affiliation with the defense of this crime.  Blood is thicker than water and conscience should prevail. To force an issue in this case when the attorney’s services have been terminated, is selfishness towards the family of John Furniss and narrow minded towards the security of innocent parties, particularly when all of the women on island for months after the crime was committed were and still are very fearful.  Mr. Henderson, find another counsel!