Disbarred Edmonton lawyer appeals contempt of court conviction

Shawn Beaver is appealing a civil contempt of court conviction that was levelled against him last month in Court of Queen’s Bench when the judge found he "deliberately" violated a court order forbidding him to practise law.

Shawn Beaver argues judge made legal errors

Shawn Beaver is appealing a May 2020 civil contempt of court conviction. (J. Penner Photo Co.)

A disbarred Edmonton lawyer is appealing a civil contempt of court conviction that was levelled against him last month in Court of Queen's Bench. 

Associate Chief Justice John Rooke found Shawn Beaver "deliberately" violated a court order forbidding him to practise law. 

In a civil notice of appeal filed with the court on June 11, Beaver's lawyer alleged the judge made unreasonable findings on the evidence, failed to properly apply the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt and made a mistake when he failed to dismiss evidence from two law society witnesses. 

Beaver was disbarred in February 2017 after the Law Society of Alberta discovered he was using a young female lawyer as a front to secretly continue working in the legal profession.

The law society described it as "a prolonged, deliberate scheme to clandestinely practise law," that he did for personal gain.

The judge agreed and after finding Beaver guilty, Rooke gave the law society time to file a brief on proposed punishments and additional time for Beaver to respond. 

Under the Alberta Rules of Court, a person found guilty of civil contempt can be jailed for no more than two years and can also be fined.

Beaver spent more than two decades building his career as a criminal defence lawyer. But in 2014, he took approximately $300,000 from clients' trust accounts and by breaching accounting rules, which led to a career-deciding disciplinary hearing with the Law Society of Alberta and ultimately his disbarment.

He recently launched a website to promote a risk and crisis management consulting company. 

On the home page it states, "Unfortunately, Shawn suffered personal setbacks in 2014, which culminated in a shortened legal career after 23 years. You can read all about it in media reports published at the time.

"Suffice it to say that his professional regulator did not see the value in a person of his talents, and thought that a year of personal trouble out of a 23-year career was unforgivable. Others disagree."

The phone number on the consulting website is the same one that appears on the site posted a year ago that offers immigration consulting services. 

About the Author

Janice Johnston is an award-winning journalist in Edmonton who has covered the courts and crime for more than two decades. You can reach her at janice.johnston@cbc.ca or on Twitter at @cbcjanjohnston