Judge frowns on late change of legal aid attorney

Three men charged with the New Year’s Day robbery at Diamonds International have had their matter put off again after one of them asked for a new attorney.

Justice Charles Quin was told Thursday that James Herbert McLean’s present attorney was applying to come off record because the professional relationship with the defendant had broken down and McLean had advised the Legal Aid Office accordingly.

The judge said he was sorry to hear it, but no blame was attached to the attorney. He recognized there are genuine conflicts of interest and this can happen, “but it’s beginning to happen too frequently,” he commented.

Speaking directly to McLean, he observed, “This is a criminal justice system and you can’t play fast and loose with it.”

He pointed out that McLean had been represented by the same attorney for more than four months and it was very late in the day for a change.

“You can’t willy-nilly change [attorneys] like ordering a meal from a menu,” the judge told McLean. “Whoever you choose, make sure it’s the last time.”

The defendant said he would have a legal representative in two weeks.

McLean, 22, is charged along with Jonathan Mark Ramoon, 36, and Christopher Julian Myles, 32, of robbing the waterfront store of jewelry valued at more than $750,000 and possessing a firearm with intent to commit robbery.

The hearing took place in a downstairs courtroom because Ramoon was in a wheelchair. He was injured after being chased down by Police Commissioner David Baines in his car immediately after the robbery.

Ramoon changed his attorney in February and is now represented by Irving Banks. Myles has been represented by attorney John Furniss. Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryll Richards and Crown Counsel Marilyn Brandt attended for the Crown.

Ms. Richards suggested June 5, as the next mention date. The judge directed that all three men continue to be remanded in custody until then.

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