Status of double homicide preliminary in question

Accused’s lawyer convicted of sexual assault

Published on June 3, 2014

TRURO – Preliminary inquiry dates for a Valley man charged in a double homicide are in question now that his defence lawyer has been suspended from practicing law.

“Up in the air,” said Nova Scotia Prosecution Service spokeswoman Chirs Hansen, regarding the case of Gerald Rushton, who is charged with killing his girlfriend Elizabeth MacPherson and her daughter Brittany last December.

A seven-day day preliminary inquiry for Rushton is scheduled to begin in provincial court in Truro on Oct. 6.

The status of that inquiry and numerous other high-profile cases in the province are in question, however, because of the sexual assault conviction levied by a jury on Saturday against Rushton’s solicitor, Halifax criminal lawyer Lyle Howe.

“I mean, he has many, many clients,” Hansen said, of Howe, adding it is too early to be able to determine the fallout from his conviction.

“We’re waiting not just on that case but many cases.”

Following his conviction, Howe’s ability to practice law was suspended on Monday by the Nova Scotia Barrister’s Society.

Darrel Pink, executive director of the barrister’s society, also said he could not speculate what may happen with any of Howe’s outstanding cases.

“We’re not in a situation that anybody wanted to be in,” he said. “The impact is going to be very widespread.”

But even if Howe decides to appeal his conviction, as his lawyer Mike Taylor has suggested to some media as a possibility, there is no way that the matter could be settled before October, Pink said.

The society has appointed John Rafferty of Burchell MacDougall law firm in Truro, as the receiver who will manage Howe’s law practice in the short term and Hansen said a legal team is being assembled to aid him in sorting out which of Howe’s cases should receive priority.

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