The launched Edmonton legal professional Shawn Beaver was sentenced to 1 yr in jail
Disqualified and disgraced Edmonton attorney Shawn Beaver is due to surrender to Edmonton Detention Center until Thursday to serve a one-year sentence for disregard of the court.
In a damning 28-page decision, Alberta Chief Justice of the Queen’s Bench Associate Chief Justice John Rooke repeatedly noted that Beaver is the sole author of his own misfortune.
“After Mr. Beaver’s legal license was suspended and Mr. Beaver revoked, Mr. Beaver repeatedly ignored the law,” Rooke wrote. “His actions speak of defiance, louder than his words.”
Beaver’s problems date back to 2014 when he stole trust funds from his law firm to support his lifestyle, including money that was held in trust for a person with intellectual 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 His license was suspended in May 2015 and he was revoked in February 2017.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”
While Beaver has not been admitted to the bar for nearly six years, the Law Society of Alberta and the courts have found that he repeatedly searched for loopholes and continued to practice clandestinely.
Despite being ruled out, Beaver used junior attorney Chipo Florence Jura as a camouflage in 2017 and 2018. When the law firm began the investigation, Beaver asked 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 dump his co-conspirator under the bus,” Rooke wrote. “He did it for money. Mr. Beaver planned and carried out a clandestine illegal enterprise.”
Law was also excluded.
“She may not have been the best young lawyer in Alberta, but it was Mr. Beaver who drove the nails in the coffin for Ms. Jura’s professional career,” Rooke wrote.
On May 14, 2020, Rooke found Beaver guilty of contempt of court.
A week later, Beaver published a Kijiji ad titled “Legal Advice from the Best,” which provides lawyers with legal guidance and litigation strategies, and assists non-lawyers with wills, claims and disputes between landlords and tenants.
The Bar Association ordered Beaver to remove the ad, and he followed suit.
Rooke described the ad as defiant, referring to it as “both turning up your nose and mocking it”.
Not a credible witness
In written rulings, the Bar Association found a year in prison to be appropriate.
In response, Beaver filed an affidavit and made a statement in court last September that was cross-examined by the bar association’s attorney.
“Mr. Beaver is not a credible witness, ”Rooke wrote.
Beaver apologized for his past actions, but Rooke dismissed the apology, calling it “insincere”.
The judge didn’t think Beaver was genuinely repentant – just that he was sorry he was caught.
Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Associate Chief Justice John Rooke noted that Beaver “was only to blame”. (Submitted by Alberta Courts)
“Mr. Beaver knew what he was doing was wrong, but he did it anyway.”
Beaver also accused the bar association of “following him”. His adult daughters alleged the same thing in affidavits filed with the court.
Again, Rooke noted that Beaver can only blame himself for being targeted by the bar association.
“The reason Mr Beaver has repeatedly been tried by the LSA is because Mr Beaver has repeatedly exercised law illegally without a license and went to great lengths to cover up those activities.”
In addition, Beaver put the blame on the media. He testified that the press coverage had affected his job prospects, led to hate mail and angered his family.
“The stories are derisive and meant to be embarrassing,” said Beaver. “In short, I am punished every day for the way the press portrays me.”
He has entered a CBC history as the only exhibit to prove his point.
Judge Rooke said the article did nothing to prove that Beaver “is being punished by an unfair press every day.”
“If Mr. Beavers complains that his illegal activities have restricted his employment opportunities, it cannot be attributed to bad press,” Rooke wrote. “Rather, it is only Mr. Beaver’s fault if his theft of money and the illegal, unlicensed exercise of rights have made some potential employers and customers reluctant to use Mr. Beaver’s services.”
“I have nightmares”
Beaver told the court he lived from paycheck to paycheck and was the sole provider of his wife and five children. Instead of sending him to jail, the 52-year-old asked for a fine with a deadline for payment.
Beaver and Chantal Beaver look after three girls under the age of 10. (Shawn Beaver / Facebook)
“A fine is not a reasonable result in this case,” Rooke decided. “A more tangible step is needed.”
The law firm also opposed a fine for failing to repay funds stolen from his law firm, nor to pay court or attorney fees.
In a written statement released to the media on Tuesday, Shawn Beaver said he was ready to serve in jail.
“I love my wife and children, and their care and future remain my top priority,” wrote Beaver. “I have nightmares about how these decisions will affect you.”
He added that he respected the legal system and the law.
“I look forward to making reparation and reparation for all those affected by my transgressions, for which I deeply regret,” he wrote.
Beaver’s daughter Erin tearfully told CBC News in a telephone interview that Beaver’s verdict will be a “financial disaster” for her family.
“I am ashamed of my little sisters who are two, five and nine years old,” she said. “I am ashamed, my sister, and I have to step in to fill that void.”
Rooke concluded that Beaver needed to be locked up because he couldn’t accept his promise to change his ways.
“The sentence imposed on Mr. Beaver must be proportionate to his misconduct,” Rooke concluded. “Mr. Beaver’s most aggravating contemptuous illegal conduct makes a difficult move by the court.
“There are no extenuating factors for Mr. Beaver.”
The conviction will be heard in the appeals court on March 31st.