After putting more than 500 hours into Greg Fertuck’s case, both of his attorneys walked out of the courtroom in the middle of a murder trial.
Fertuck has been charged with first-degree murder in the disappearance of his estranged wife, Sheree Fertuck. The body of the 51-year-old woman was never found.
Judge Richard Daniliuk granted requests by lawyers Maurice Bodnar and Mike Nolin to withdraw from the case, after Fertuck filed complaints about them behind their backs with the Law Society of Saskatchewan.
Bodnar said he had never heard a client make such “ridiculous” allegations about him. Bodnar has been a lawyer for 50 years and has worked on about 100 murder cases.
“Mr. Fertuck has had the advantage of 72 years of legal experience that has benefited him in the last two years. That will be hard to replace,” Nolin told reporters outside.
After the attorneys left the courtroom, Daniliuk asked Fertuck if he wanted a new attorney.
“I could represent myself in part of the trial, but I don’t know anything about voir dire,” Fertak told the judge, behind a glass panel with his legs shackled.
Voir dire is a trial within a trial to determine the admissibility of evidence.
Daniliuk suggested that Fertuck retain a legal representative throughout the proceedings.
With Bodnar and Nolin removed from the case, Brett Little was appointed as independent counsel for the interim court.
Fertak asked the judge to make Little his attorney. Daniliuk said he would have to apply through a legal aid application.
“Bodnar has all my money and I don’t have anything left to pay a lawyer,” Fertak said.
Danilyuk told Fertak not to talk about Bodnar or Nolin, worried that Fertak would say something that could lead to a mistrial.
Although the nature of Fertuk’s complaints was not disclosed, in open court, Bodnar called them “humiliating and unwelcome.”
Bodnar took on Fertuk’s file as his last case before retiring.
“Today is bittersweet for me because today is Morris’s last day in court — a mentor I’ve worked with for many years.” “Walking out of the courtroom this way is not how we planned,” Nolin said.
THE DEFENSE MAINTAINS FERTUK’S INNOCENCE, DESPITE GETTING AWAY FROM THE CASE
Bodnar said that while he didn’t expect the case to end this way for him, he’s relieved to now be focusing on his family in retirement.
He said Fertuk’s case dominated his thoughts even on his days off at the lake.
“I strongly, strongly believe — and still believe — that Mr. Fertak is not guilty,” Bodnar said.
Bodnar said he was willing to sit down with Fertuk’s new legal counsel.
The Crown and defense are scheduled to present their written arguments to the judge by August.
Prosecutor Carla Dewar said she was “keen to bring the case forward.”
Fertuk’s murder trial began in September 2021.
The case management hearing is scheduled for November 18.
Daniljuk extended Little by then.