Disbarred Edmonton lawyer wins stay, ordered released from jail amid 1-year contempt of court sentence

EDMONTON — A disbarred Edmonton lawyer who was sentenced to one year in jail for contempt of court has won a stay in his case and will be released from custody.

Shawn Beaver had served seven days of a one-year jail term but was ordered released from the Edmonton Remand Centre on Wednesday morning. 

Court of Appeal of Alberta Justice Peter Costigan issued the stay pending the outcome of a March 31 appeal hearing of Beaver’s contempt order. 

“If a stay is granted and an appeal fails, it is unlikely the public’s confidence will be undermined by a short hiatus in the sentence,” Costigan told in ordering Beaver’s release.

Beaver has filed two distinct appeals, first of the the contempt of court judgment against him, and second, of the the subsequent one-year jail sentence.

Costigan encouraged the two appeals to be heard jointly at the end of the month. He said the judicial panel hearing those appeals will determine how long the stay will remain in effect.

Beaver’s lawyer argued imprisonment was premature pending the outcome of those appeals. 

Costigan rejected arguments from the Law Society of Alberta to keep Beaver in jail as his appeals lacked substance and were unlikely to succeed. 

“Although the grounds of appeal may not be strong, I’m not satisfied that the appeal of the contempt order is frivolous or vexatious.”

CONTEMPT OF COURT

Beaver was disbarred in February of 2017 after the law society found he had stolen from his clients’ trust accounts. He subsequently recruited a junior lawyer to act as a false front to his continued unlicensed practice, according to a Feb. 22 Court of Queen’s Bench ruling

“His actions speak of defiance, louder than his words,” Court of Queen’s Bench Associate Chief Justice Rooke wrote, noting Beaver’s “blatant and willful contempt.” 

“His activities were also inherently illegal because Mr. Beaver was no longer a lawyer, and was practicing law.”

Beaver told CTV News he regrets his actions.

“Despite what the Court has recently ruled, I have the greatest respect for the legal system which I have served and taught in for the majority of my career,” he wrote.

“I am fully prepared to face the imposed consequences of my actions.” 

At sentencing, his lawyer argued for a suspended sentence and fine. 

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