Wills' bills source of Legal Aid's ills

The justice in the case issued a Fisher order, forcing the A.G. to set-up higher legal aid rates

By Ryan Merkeley

On Saturday November 3rd, 2007

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Richard Wills, a former Toronto police officer convicted of murdering his mistress and hiding her body behind a wall in his basement, also managed to rack up over $1 million in legal bills — to be paid by Ontario’s AG.

Wills, who divested all of his assets to his former wife before trial, hired and fired three different lawyers, then appealed to legal aid and was denied. Despite what Justice John McIsaac called “manufactured poverty,” Wills had held things up so long that Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy granted a rare Fisher order that would force the Attorney General to set up a fund and to pay rates higher than Legal Aid’s standard rates — up to $200/hr for senior counsel and $140/hr for junior council. Legal Aid’s standard rate is $93/hr.

Unfortunately, it appears that no one was monitoring the spending, and over $1 million (and seven more lawyers hired and fired) later, Wills is convicted, and the AG is being sent the bill. Here’s a roundup of the major papers’ coverage: