A B.C. judge has sentenced a disbarred Ontario lawyer to jail after citing him for civil contempt.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice John Savage found John Gorman in contempt of a 2001 order that he refrain from practicing law in the western province. In his Oct. 26 decision, Savage sentenced Gorman to two weeks in jail and a $5,000 fine. The Law Society of British Columbia, which brought the motion for contempt, was also awarded special costs in the case.
“There has been wilful disobedience of a court order in this case,” Savage wrote.
Gorman, who failed to show up in court for argument on the application, was given 60 days to set aside the penalties, but Savage said he would have to appear in person to do so.
In 2001, Gorman was found to be illegally practicing law in B.C. after his disbarment from the Law Society of Upper Canada in 1984, and ordered to stop providing legal services in the province.
The LSBC made its application after Gorman became involved in disputes on behalf of two separate couples. In 2007, Gorman sent demand letters on behalf of a couple in dispute with a property management company, threatening legal action if the company refused to negotiate. In 2010, he sent demand letters on behalf of another couple in a dispute with an educational institution.
Although Gorman’s “clients” claimed in affidavits filed with the court that he hadn’t charged for his services and told them that he wasn’t a lawyer, Savage found that he’d done enough to violate the 2001 order, which barred him from preparing documents for use in a proceeding or “negotiating in any way for the settlement” of a claim or demand for damages.
Savage also extended the prohibition on Gorman to permanently enjoin him from representing himself to be a lawyer in B.C.
According to the judgment, Gorman had initially seemed prepared to defend himself on the application at the Oct. 25 hearing, but had a change of mind in August when he wrote to law society officials in B.C., telling them he had “no intention of being present at your silly motion.”
“I have returned to Ontario to commence a civil and criminal case of conspiracy by the Law Society of Upper Canada and British Columbia for defamation of my reputation. I have already commenced an Action for $20,000,000.00 damages for wrongful disbarment in 1984,” Gorman wrote.