The Crown wants Trevor McGuigan to be removed as attorney for Randy Desmond Riley, a Dartmouth man waiting for the murder to resume when a pizza delivery boy was shot dead in 2010.
The problem surfaced Thursday when Riley video appeared from prison before the Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax to confirm the dates for a bail hearing.
"The Crown believes that Mr. McGuigan cannot act as an attorney for Mr. Riley," Prosecutor Peter Craig informed the court.
Craig said he intended to file a motion for McGuigan to be removed as an attorney on file and asked Justice Denise Boudreau to postpone a bail hearing until the motion was heard and decided.
He failed to elaborate on why the Crown believes McGuigan, who also represented Riley at his first trial in 2018, has a conflict of interest.
Riley, 29, is one of two men charged on October 23, 2010, with the murder of Donald Chad Smith. The 27-year-old father of two died of a gunshot to the chest after delivering a pizza to an address on Joseph Young Street in north Dartmouth.
The Crown claimed Riley killed Smith with a hammer in revenge for an earlier attack, and Nathan Tremaine Johnson called the pizza shop to lure Smith to the address where the shooting took place.
Johnson, 28, of Cherry Brook was convicted of first degree murder in 2015. Riley, who was also charged with first degree murder, was found guilty of second degree murder of the lesser offense in 2018.
Riley appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, which unanimously overturned his conviction last month and ordered a retrial for second degree murder and illegal possession of a firearm.
McGuigan told the court Thursday that he disagreed with the Crown's position and did not believe the motion to remove him from the case will have any merit.
"I assume that the court doesn't need or want us to deal with this issue this morning," said the defense attorney.
"The problem for Mr. Riley, of course, is that he is seeking a judicial release. He has the right to do so. He has the right to adequate bail."
McGuigan said the Crown's application should be heard as soon as possible so that his client, who has been in custody since the summer of 2013, can get a bail hearing.
The judge ordered Craig to file his motion by Friday and scheduled the December 14 hearing.
Boydreau said she received a letter from Craig about the proposed application, "but I don't know what's behind it."
"Once that problem is resolved … people should be prepared to see where we are going from there with Mr. Riley's bail hearing."
She assured Riley that her "first priority" was to get a bail hearing.
The dates for Riley's new trial, which will be negotiated by a jury, have not yet been set. There have been no court cases in the Halifax area since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and are not expected to resume at least until March.