What was supposed to be a five-day trial this week was drastically shortened after a man who agreed to plead guilty on Tuesday changed his mind at the last minute and fired his lawyer in court.
The man, who cannot be named due to a publication ban put in place to protect the identity of the victims, was scheduled to stand trial in Brandon Court of Queen’s Bench starting Monday, facing multiple charges including sexual interference, sexual assault and obstructing justice.
The Crown agreed to move some charges to provincial court for sentencing on Tuesday when the man indicated he would plead guilty to them.
However, before pleas were entered, the man demanded through his Spanish translator to speak to the judge and refused to speak to his lawyer for legal counsel.
While Judge Lindy Choy discussed calling a recess with counsel, the man continued to loudly interrupt asking to speak to the judge.
"In my 35 years, this has never happened … I’m not sure how the court would like to proceed," said defence counsel Norm Sims, adding his client would not talk or answer him during the recess, making a zipper motion across his mouth while pressing his lips shut."
"I have no instruction … given today’s events I’m starting to feel uncomfortable representing (him)."
After briefly explaining to the man the court process, Choy asked him if he wanted Sims to continue to act on his behalf.
"I tell him I fire him," the man said. "I have been forced to do this."
"You feel forced in to entering a guilty plea?" Choy asked.
"Yes," the man said.
In electing to once again stand trial, the man’s charges were sent back to Brandon Court of Queen’s Bench. He is due back in court on March 22 when he is expected to find a new lawyer to represent him.
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