EMERSON – An NHL player who was allegedly found with controlled substances was scheduled to make his first personal appearance in an Emerson courthouse Thursday. Instead, a veteran criminal lawyer from Winnipeg appeared on his behalf for a swift hearing that took approximately one minute.
Mike Richards' case was promptly remanded to Dec. 8 in Emerson.
Richards, a 30-year-old NHL free agent and former player for the Los Angeles Kings, was allegedly found trying to bring Oxycodone over the border at the Emerson port of entry on June 17.
Oxycodone is a powerful prescription painkiller.
After two months of investigation, Emerson RCMP charged Richards with possession of a controlled substance on Aug. 25.
The Emerson courthouse and town hall was brimming with more action than usual Thursday.
Twenty other small cases – Highway Traffic Act violations, parole offences – came on the docket before Richards’, which media were in attendance for.
The town hall secretary said it was the most action the Emerson courthouse, built in 1918, had ever seen.
Nearly an hour after court was scheduled to begin, Hymie Weinstein arrived.
He is acting as an agent for Richards’ primary lawyer David Humphrey, who is based in Toronto.
"It’s a big day in Emerson, guys!" Weinstein said jokingly to reporters as he walked up to the courthouse doors.
Crown attorney Victoria Cornick agreed to having Weinstein represent Richards and Humphrey.
After the hearing, she said she felt confident Richards would make a personal appearance in court, if or when he was needed.
Humphrey, reached by phone after the court proceedings, said he couldn’t confirm who would be representing Richards next in court.
The defense counsel is still waiting on "initial disclosure" from the Crown, he said.
"Mike intends to vigorously defend the case and we’re awaiting further disclosure, which we expect to receive well before December 8," Humphrey said.
Humphrey would not elaborate on what disclosure the Crown has yet to provide them.
Humphrey also would not comment on how Richards is doing personally while he awaits a possible trial.
Richards had his NHL contract with the Kings terminated on June 29 after the run-in at the Emerson port of entry.
The Kings franchise cited a "material breach of the requirements" in his contract and let Richards go with five years and $22 million left on his contract.
The NHL Players Association filed a grievance in August, but the case has not yet been heard by an independent arbitrator.
Updated on Thursday, September 10, 2015 at 10:22 AM CDT: Changes photo
11:28 AM: Changes photo
11:37 AM: Updated
3:37 PM: Updated