Edmonton’s impoverished and disgraced lawyer Shawn Beaver is due by Thursday at the Edmonton Remand Center to begin serving a one-year sentence for contempt of court.
In a bite 28-page decisionJohn Rooke, President of the Court of Queen’s Bench in Alberta, has repeatedly noted that Beaver is the sole author of his own misfortune.
“After Mr. Beaver’s license to practice law was suspended and Mr. Beaver was expelled, Mr. Beaver repeatedly ignored the law,” wrote Rooke. “Your actions speak of a challenge, louder than your words.”
Beaver’s problems date back to 2014, when he stole trust funds from his law firm to support his lifestyle, including money held in custody for a person with mental disabilities, addictions and homelessness. His license was suspended in May 2015 and he was revoked in February 2017.
The misappropriation of funds is still under criminal investigation, the Edmonton Police Service told CBC News on Tuesday.
‘He did it for money’
Although Beaver was not allowed to practice law for almost six years, the Law Society of Alberta and the courts found that he repeatedly searched for loopholes and continued to practice secretly.
Despite being suspended, Beaver used junior lawyer Clipo Florence Jura in 2017 and 2018 as a facade. When the legal society began to investigate, Beaver told Jura to destroy any incriminating evidence that could be used against him.
“He knew what he was doing was illegal and he tried to hide it, going so far as to throw his co-conspirator under the bus,” wrote Rooke. “He did it for money. Mr. Beaver planned and executed an illegal clandestine venture.”
Jura was also expelled.
“She may not have been the best junior lawyer in Alberta, but it was Mr. Beaver who drove the nails into the casket of Ms. Jura’s legal professional career,” wrote Rooke.
On May 14, 2020, Rooke found Beaver guilty of contempt of court.
A week later, Beaver posted a Kijiji ad titled “Legal Instruction of the Best”, offering legal instructions and trial strategies for lawyers, as well as help with wills, claims and landlord / tenant disputes for non-lawyers.
The society ordered Beaver to remove the ad and he complied.
Rooke described the ad as challenging, referring to it as “both mockery and mockery”.
Not a credible witness
In written sentence requests, the legal society suggested that a one-year prison sentence was appropriate.
In response, Beaver filed a sworn statement and made a statement to the court last September, which was subject to questioning by the law society’s board.
“I don’t think Mr. Beaver is a reliable witness,” wrote Rooke.
Beaver apologized for his earlier actions, but Rooke rejected the apology, calling him a “hypocrite”.
The judge did not believe that Beaver was sincerely sorry – only that he regretted being caught.
“Mr. Beaver knew that what he was doing was wrong, but he did it anyway.”
Beaver also blamed the legal society for “chasing him”. His adult daughters claimed the same in depositions submitted to the court.
Again, Rooke noted that Beaver can only blame himself for being the target of legal society.
“The reason why Mr. Beaver was repeatedly brought to this court by the LSA is because Mr. Beaver was illegally practicing the law repeatedly without a license and, moreover, does everything to hide this activity.”
In addition, Beaver pointed the guilty finger at the media. He testified that press coverage affected his job prospects, led to hatred in the mail, and upset his family.
“The stories are mocking and are meant to be embarrassing,” said Beaver. “In short, I am punished every day for the way the press chooses to portray me.”
He entered a CBC story as the only display to prove your point.
Judge Rooke said the article did nothing to prove that Beaver is “being punished every day for an unfair press”.
“If Beaver’s complaint that his illegal activity has reduced his employment opportunities, it cannot be attributed to bad publicity,” wrote Rooke. “Instead, Mr. Beaver can only blame himself if his theft of money and illegal unlicensed practice of the law has meant that some employers and potential customers are hesitant to hire Mr. Beaver’s services.”
‘I have nightmares’
Beaver told the court that he lives on payment for payment and is the sole provider for his wife and five children. Instead of sending him to jail, the 52-year-old asked for a fine with a payment deadline.
“A fine is not a reasonable result in this case,” Rooke decided. “A more tangible step is needed.”
The law firm also argued against a financial penalty, noting that he never reimbursed the funds he stole from his law firm, nor paid the legal or legal costs.
In a written statement released Tuesday to the media, Shawn Beaver said he was prepared to face the prison sentence.
“I love my wife and children, and their care and future remain my highest priority,” wrote Beaver. “I have nightmares about how those decisions will affect them.”
He added that he respects the legal system and the law.
“I look forward to making reparations and reparations to anyone affected by my transgressions, of which I am deeply sorry,” he wrote.
Beaver’s daughter, Erin, said crying to CBC News in a telephone interview. Beaver’s sentence will be a “financial catastrophe” for his family.
“I am mortified by my two, five and nine year old sisters,” she said. “I am mortified, my sister and I will have to intervene to fill this void.”
Rooke concluded that Beaver needed to be jailed, as he was unable to accept his promise that he would change his habits.
“The punishment imposed on Mr. Beaver must be commensurate with his misconduct,” concluded Rooke. “Mr. Beaver’s highly aggravating and disdainful conduct favors a heavy step by the court.
“There are no mitigating factors for Mr. Beaver.”