By Courtesy (St. John's)
Friday, April 27, 2007
Joe Oliver alleges police misconduct and a serious conflict of interest within
legal aid in documents filed in Newfoundland Supreme Court.
Three-and-a-half months after he was arrested in the murders of Dale Worthman
and Kim Lockyer, Oliver still sits in jail � practically penniless and,
But the latter he blames on legal aid and a conflict of interest that he says
could have been avoided, according to court documents obtained by The
Oliver claims he was �freaked out� by a call he received from a
senior lawyer who has or did represent two people he�s been ordered to
stay away from � namely Shannon Murrin and Shelly Stokes.
That lawyer, Bill Collins, also happens to be chairman of the Legal Aid
Commission�s appeal board.
Oliver applied for a legal aid lawyer because he couldn�t afford one in
private practice. He was appointed a lawyer from Gander, but appealed that
decision on several grounds and was turned down. He wants the Supreme Court to
overturn that decision and allow him to have a private lawyer paid for by the
�This case is difficult and has been ongoing for 13-plus years, which
means a lot of material and disclosure,� Oliver, assisted pro bono by his
former lawyer Bob Buckingham, states in a letter to the legal aid appeal board.
�I have a Grade 4 education and can barely read and write, so it is
important all my material be close with a lawyer that can meet me at any time to
discuss the file. Therefore I should have a St. John�s-based lawyer.
�The charges are serious and I could go to jail for life. I need a lawyer
with a lot of courtroom experience in serious criminal trials and with jury
�I do not think the lead lawyer assigned to me has enough criminal
courtroom or jury experience to represent me on these charges.�
Oliver, who has a common-law wife of 20 years, an 18-year-old son and
16-year-old daughter, argued that any lawyer outside St. John�s would be
too far away to properly communicate with him and prepare for what would likely
be one of the most sensational and high-profile trials in recent Newfoundland
�With respect, the lead lawyer assigned to my case has mostly practiced
in the area of landlord and tenants,� he states.
Oliver also claims his rights have been �abused and manipulated�
by the police, but he does not elaborate.
�Therefore, I need a lawyer who I have confidence in and who will protect
me from future improper police actions. I think this file will require nearly
full-time work by my lead lawyer and from what I hear, legal aid lawyers have
too many other cases to give mine the time it requires.�
Oliver filed the application with Supreme Court alleging conflict of interest
and bias after his appeal for a St. John�s lawyer, or private lawyer paid
by the province was rejected,
The application states Collins should never have heard the appeal in the first
place because �he had a professional relationship with two of the people
involved� in the double murder case �Murrin and Stokes.
Two days after Oliver�s arrest on Jan. 12, Murrin claimed Oliver was
trying to finger him for the crime. Meanwhile, Stokes, a local psychic, told
media she played a key role in leading the police to the bodies off Thorburn
Neither claim has been substantiated and no other arrests have been made.
But the fact Collins represented or advised Stokes and Murrin at all is enough
to create �a reasonable apprehension of bias� in the appeal
process, Oliver�s application states.
Collins, meanwhile, denies any conflict in the matter. In a letter to Oliver
addressing the matter, the renowned defence lawyer notes he last represented
Murrin 20 years ago in an unrelated matter, and �the other person
Contacted this week, Collins reiterated his position.
�I have over 35 years of legal experience and I believe I would know if
my actions were inappropriate,� Collins tells The Independent.
�And I can assure you they were not.�
Meantime, Oliver has yet to apply for bail, since he does not have a full-time
lawyer to make his case for release pending trial.
His application against legal aid was called in Supreme Court April 26, but has
yet to be resolved. Oliver, 37, has been charged with two counts of
second-degree murder in the August 1993 execution-style shootings of Worthman
But police have always believed the killings were planned or premeditated, which
is a prerequisite for first-degree murder charges.
A police spokesman said this week there is nothing else new to report in the
A day after Oliver�s arrest, RNC Const. Paul Davis told media there was
�Yes, that is still the case,� he said this week. �But I
cannot tell you anything else, other than the fact the investigation is still