Appeal court reduces disbarred lawyer Shawn Beaver’s jail sentence to weekends

Appeal court reduces disbarred lawyer Shawn Beaver's jail sentence to weekends

Edmonton’s disqualified attorney Shawn Beaver will serve a lesser sentence following a ruling by the Alberta Court of Appeals.

Like other people serving intermittent sentences – weekends only – Beaver will be under house arrest rather than time in jail.

Earlier this year, Beaver was ordered to report to the Edmonton Remand Center to serve a one-year sentence for contempt of court for violating an injunction that forced him to cease providing legal services.

In a judgment filed on May 6, the appeals court replaced the one-year sentence with 90 days in prison on weekends plus 200 hours of community service.

In a statement emailed Thursday, Alberta Justice spokeswoman Katherine Thompson confirmed that people who would normally sit in provincial prisons on weekends will be placed under 24-hour house arrest instead.

“These measures will help reduce the number of people entering and leaving provincial detention centers and detention centers to help prevent the virus from spreading,” Thompson said.

Beaver’s appeal to overturn his conviction was denied.

The court found that John Rooke, Associate Chief Justice of the Alberta Supreme Court, made a mistake in dismissing Beaver’s arguments about mitigating factors that should have been taken into account in determining his sentence, such as:

“In addition, it is too big a leap to impose a first-time incarceration of one year,” said the appeal court’s decision.

Beaver’s legal troubles date back to 2014 when he stole trust funds, including trust funds for people with intellectual disabilities, addiction and homelessness, from his law firm. His license was suspended in May 2015 and he was expelled in February 2017. He was found guilty of contempt of court on May 14, 2020.

A week later, he published a Kijiji ad offering attorneys legal instruction and assistance with wills, claims and tenant disputes for non-lawyers. The Law Society of Alberta ordered him to remove the ad, which he did.

When Rooke sentenced Beaver, he found the former attorney was not credible as a witness and said he did not find Beaver’s repentance sincere.

“Mr. Beaver knew what he was doing was wrong, but he did it anyway.”

– With files from Janice Johnston