Lawyers want Williams cases bundled

Russell Williams (C) former Commander of Canadian Forces Base Trenton is escorted from the...

Russell Williams (C) former Commander of Canadian Forces Base Trenton is escorted from the Belleville courthouse, October 18, 2010. (Reuters/FRED THORNHILL)

JASON MILLER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:17 AM ET

BELLEVILLE, ONT. - Lawyers seeking to expedite several civil suits filed against convicted killer Russell Williams and his estranged wife are hoping to have the cases bundled together and handled by the same judge, court documents show.

A motion to be addressed in a Belleville court on Sept. 27 asks that a Kingston-based Superior Court judge be appointed to manage a mountain of documents now being filed by plaintiffs and defendants in the multi-million dollar civil suit.

The suits mostly involve victims of the former 8 Wing commander turned sadistic killer and some are directed against his wife, Mary-Elizabeth Harriman.

“When you have a big case, it’s better to have one judge case-manage it because that judge is hearing all of the motions,” Mike Pretsell, a Belleville lawyer representing two of the plaintiffs, said Friday. “It saves everybody money and time. All the files will be in one place.”

Pretsell, who filed the motion, said the primary intent is to avoid an anticipated duplication of issues and evidence prevalent in all the lawsuits, along with reducing the strain on court resources. Pretsell is optimistic the motion will be approved.

“It would be a significant waste of legal resources and increased expense to this litigation should each of the four actions continue to run independently of each other,” the motion reads. “This is a rare case where judicial management would be beneficial to all the parties.”

Pretsell noted that several of the lawyers and plaintiffs linked to the civil suit agree with the motion’s objective, including Mary Jane Binks, Harriman’s defence lawyer. Williams’ lawyer, Kelly Santini, also supports the request.

“The main players all agree this is necessary,” Pretsell said.

Court files show there are three actions in a Belleville court and a fourth set for Peterborough that share common defendants arising from a related series of events.

Williams is serving life in prison in Kingston. He was convicted in October 2010 of the first-degree murders of Cpl. Marie-France Comeau, 37, of Brighton, and Jessica Lloyd, 27, of Belleville, and of sexually attacking two women in Tweed, Ont. He was also convicted of dozens of break-and-enters and thefts in Belleville, Tweed and Ottawa.

Harriman and Williams are at the heart of the lawsuit launched by a handful of plaintiffs, including Lloyd’s family.

It also covers lawsuits filed by Tweed women Laurie Massicotte and a female victim only identified as Jane Doe, both of whom Williams sexually assaulted in their homes.

Pretsell said without formal conference, he anticipates it will also address claims filed by Larry Jones, a former Cosy Cove Lane neighbour of Williams, who was initially viewed as a person of interest by police following the fall 200 break-ins and sexual assaults.

Case management procedures will only address claims filed against Williams and Harriman and will not extend to lawsuits directed at the Ontario Provincial Police and Ontario government by Jones and Massicotte, respectively, Pretsell said.

Williams and Harriman have filed statements of defence refuting all claims.

The notice, filed this week, underscores that evidence in the claims of all the plaintiffs is the focal issue of whether or not there was a “fraudulent conveyance of assets” or property between the defendants Williams and Harriman to shield it from the claims.

A Kingston judge was proposed after Justice Robert Scott, the only available superior court judge in Belleville, had already handled the conviction and sentencing of Williams and recused himself from hearing any of the civil matters.

jason.miller@sunmedia.ca


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