The trial of a Shuswap man on charges of criminal negligence causing death following a houseboating accident three years ago is mired in legal aid funding issues.
A B.C. Supreme Court justice blamed Leon Reinbrecht on Tuesday for failing to secure legal counsel and clear up financial matters following his challenge to lack of legal aid funding for his defence.
Reinbrecht brought an application in July asking government to ensure his defence is funded through the Legal Services Society of B.C. The society is facing a severe funding shortfall.
The application was for funding granted by the B.C. Supreme Court, but with assurances Reinbrecht would file a recent tax return and an affidavit would be signed regarding his shared property.
Neither have been done in the past six weeks. Reinbrecht has also failed to name his defence lawyer.
Speaking in B.C. Supreme Court, defence lawyer Ken Walker — thus far handling only Reinbrecht’s funding applications — suggested a January trial date is no longer realistic.
“Even if I was appointed today, I would not be ready for January,” Walker said.
The defence lawyer said he also believes an expert should be retained — and paid for by legal services — who can speak to visibility on the night of the accident, July 3, 2010, when a ski boat ran head-on into a houseboat near Magna Bay following Canada Day fireworks.
The houseboat operator, 53-year-old Ken Brown of Anglemont, was killed. Eight others were injured.
Walker also said the expert should be on Shuswap Lake in July next year — something that would push the trial four years after the accident.
Legal services has so far declined to fund that expert, Walker said.
But B.C. Supreme Court Justice Carol Ross declined to push the scheduled January trial date ahead. The trial, in front of a judge and jury, is expected to take five weeks.
“This is an incident that occurred July 2010,” Ross said “There needs to be a trial on the issue.”
Lawyers will meet in court again Oct. 4 to provide an update.