Legal Drama in Calgary Courtroom as Lawyer and Client Clash with Judge

Talal Fouani, left, was on bail for organized crime and money laundering charges when he was shot while sitting in his parked Bentley outside his southwest Calgary home. Fouani's wife, Nakita Baron, 31, was killed in the shooting. Fouani wants to vacate his guilty plea to money laundering offences. (Instagram/Nakita Baron)

The atmosphere in a Calgary courtroom turned tense and emotional on Wednesday, following a decision that left a local lawyer and his client visibly agitated. Lawyer Yoav Niv and his client, Talal Fouani, faced a setback in their legal strategy when Justice Greg Stirling refused to recuse himself from a pending hearing.

Fouani, charged in June 2022 with money laundering and organized crime offenses, made headlines last year when he and his spouse, Nakita Baron, were shot while sitting in their Bentley outside their home. The incident, which resulted in Baron’s death, has remained a point of intense scrutiny, especially after Fouani’s subsequent guilty plea to money laundering linked to a significant Calgary police drug investigation.

Nakita Baron, 31, was found dead at a home in the 100 block of Everwoods Court S.W. on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022. (Obtained by CTV News)

The legal proceedings took a dramatic turn when Niv, representing Fouani, sought to disrupt the scheduled hearing. Niv’s motion for the judge’s recusal was based on claims of perceived bias due to a document improperly filed by the Crown. Expressing his frustration in court, Niv stated, “The prejudice is palpable, I can taste it in the air that I breathe in this file.”

Despite these assertions, Justice Stirling opted to continue with the planned hearing, leading to an immediate and volatile reaction from Fouani. “I’m done,” he declared, storming out of the courtroom and forcefully slamming the door behind him.

The courtroom drama escalated further when Niv threatened to withdraw from the case if Stirling did not step down. “It’s become such a mess,” Niv lamented. “I’m at the end of my rope on this file.”

Upon reconvening, Fouani returned to the courtroom, displaying a more vulnerable side. Through tears, he revealed his financial distress, having spent $500,000 on legal fees. “I don’t have another penny to spend on this,” Fouani expressed, detailing his inability to secure further legal aid and his ongoing mental health struggles.

In response to these developments, Justice Stirling adjourned the case, allowing Fouani time to secure new legal representation. Before departing, Niv addressed the judge one final time, emphasizing his earlier warnings to the Crown about the potential consequences of their actions. “I told the Crown this was going to happen,” he reiterated.