By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
COURT of Appeal judges told a veteran lawyer yesterday that he had to satisfy them that they should allow him to withdraw as counsel for a man sentenced to 50 years in jail for the fatal stabbing of his girlfriend.
Douglas Pratt, 28, and his lawyer Murrio Ducille appeared before Justices Anita Allen, Abdulai Conteh and Neville Adderley for a hearing concerning Pratt’s appeal against conviction and sentence for the November 2010 murder of Shande Cartwright at Adelaide Beach.
Last April, a Supreme Court jury unanimously agreed that Pratt killed Cartwright.
The victim, who was a client service representative at the Royal Bank of Canada, was found dead at Adelaide Beach with multiple stab wounds. A blanket, wine bottle and a pizza box were nearby.
The autopsy report of Dr Caryn Sands, Princess Margaret Hospital pathologist, revealed that the woman was stabbed 17 times, with some of the wounds being as deep as five inches.
Pratt, the father of Cartwright’s children, was arraigned four days later in connection with her death but maintained his innocence when tried in the Supreme Court.
When the matter was called in yesterday’s proceedings, Mr Ducille informed the judges that he would “like to formally withdraw”.
“You can’t just do it like that,” Justice Allen, Court of Appeal president, said.
“I could file a notice of withdrawal or I could formally make the application which I am doing,” said Mr Ducille.
“You know there are certain rules the Bar Association put in place regarding legal representation,” Justice Allen replied.
Justice Adderley suggested to the lawyer that he required the leave of the court to withdraw. Mr Ducille said withdrawal had never been an issue before in the appellate court.
“Aren’t you counsel on record?” Justice Allen asked.
Mr Ducille noted that while he was the lawyer on record in the Supreme Court at trial and had filed the appeal for Pratt, “that’s the extent of it.”
“That in itself puts you on record,” said Justice Conteh.
“I seek leave to withdraw,” said the lawyer.
“Why?” Justice Allen asked.
“I’m not being instructed,” Mr Ducille answered.
“You see the quandary of this situation?” Justice Conteh asked.
Mr Ducille said he did, but added that he had in fact filed a withdrawal application to the court at the end of March.
“Is that enough for this court, in light of the circumstances of this matter?” Justice Allen asked, who then asked Crown respondent Ambrose Armbrister if he had anything to say on the issue.
“We had anticipated this and as a consequence we did not file anything because we were unsure who would be representing him,” said Mr Armbrister.
Justice Allen said the court would adjourn the application for Mr Ducille “to satisfy the court that he has good cause for withdrawing his service.”
Justice Conteh added that it was not pleasing that a lawyer of his 40 years experience at the Bar was leaving a client convicted and sentenced to 50 years for murder to fend for himself.
Mr Ducille acknowledged Justice Conteh’s view and accepted the April 23 date for the hearing on the application for leave to withdraw.