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Man charged in 2012 Quebec election shooting to pay for his own lawyer

Police and fireman work at the rear of an auditorium where a gunman shot and killed at least one person during the PQ victory rally on September 5, 2012, in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

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Police and fireman work at the rear of an auditorium where a gunman shot and killed at least one person during the PQ victory rally on September 5, 2012, in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

MONTREAL - The man charged in Quebec's 2012 election-night shooting will pay for a lawyer out of his own pocket.

Richard Henry Bain had been fighting for months to have the province pay for his legal fees, even arguing successfully for the state to at least front him the fees he'd agreed to reimburse.

But his new defence lawyer told Quebec Superior Court Justice Guy Cournoyer on Friday the government proposal was too complex and cumbersome and that negotiations had failed.

Instead, Marcel Guerin told the court he struck a deal with his client so Bain can pay him directly, allowing the criminal case to move forward.

"I preferred to reach an agreement with him, because the administration of justice would have been a real nuisance," Guerin said outside the courtroom. "I would have spent half my time dealing with administrative issues and asking permission for things.

"That's not my role. My role is to defend Mr. Bain."

Bain is charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder after an attack at a Montreal club in September 2012 as Pauline Marois celebrated the Parti Quebecois election victory.

Lighting technician Denis Blanchette was fatally shot and colleague David Courage was wounded as they stood near a doorway to the downtown Metropolis nightclub where Marois was giving her speech.

Bain also faces several weapons charges as well as some relating to arson in the same incident.

The judge has suggested splitting the case up and having one trial focus on the murder and attempted murder charges.

One of the major obstacles in the case was finding Bain a lawyer after he was declared ineligible for legal aid.

But Guerin said the agreement drawn up by the government wasn't workable. Every defence-related expense would be subject to government scrutiny and the state would oversee the repayment process and sale of assets.

All of this would only cause problems, Guerin surmised.

"I'm not a slave of legal aid so it's easier I deal directly with Mr. Bain," he said.

Guerin would not get into specifics of his deal, citing client-attorney privilege. But he made it clear that Bain will now pay for his entire legal defence himself.

The judge was satisfied with the development.

"If you have an agreement, I'm quite happy with that agreement," Cournoyer said.

The beginning of Bain's trial is scheduled to start Jan. 19, 2015, with jury selection set for exactly one week later.

Crown prosecutor Matthew Ferguson said he will need between four and five weeks to present his arguments. The defence estimates about three weeks for its own case, including expert witnesses. Guerin said there will be a defence.

"You know, it's a murder case like any other," he said. "What's special in this case is where it took place. It's not that different from other murder files."

Guerin said his client, who has been noted for his frequent courtroom outbursts since his arrest, appears far more serene.

"I don't have a recipe, we just get along well," Guerin said. "All is going well."

The case returns to court on June 13 when Guerin is expected to tell the judge whether he expects to follow through with a request for bail for Bain.

Guerin said he first needed to see the evidence, which he was expected to receive later Friday.

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