Judge sends B.C. man to jail for practicing law without degree
NANAIMO, B.C. -- A Vancouver Island man is heading to jail for repeatedly flouting orders not to practise law without the credentials.
Ralph Goodwin was found in contempt of court in December when a judge said he "flagrantly" defied a 2013 order requiring him to stop giving legal advice and representing himself as a "chancellor of laws" or a "law speaker."
The B.C. Law Society launched a lawsuit against the 69-year-old, saying Goodwin provided legal services for a fee or the expectation of a fee.
Goodwin told the court in 2013 that he did not have a law degree, but had taken a legal studies course while studying economics, and had been given the title "chancellor of laws" by a hereditary chief in Saskatchewan.
The law society provided evidence that he had acted as counsel for a number of clients, making arguments and questioning witnesses in court.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice George Macintosh said in his December ruling that Goodwin's actions could pose a threat to the public.
"Unsophisticated people, who often have the greatest need for legal counsel, are vulnerable to Mr. Goodwin," Macintosh wrote. "His ignorance in legal matters can only harm them."
Goodwin did not defend himself and instead argued that the court had no authority over him.
Macintosh wrote in his sentencing decision that Goodwin appears to have brought an appeal to the United Nations.
Time behind bars is necessary, the judge wrote, because Goodwin has ignored previous orders and needs a deterrent.
"Public deterrence must always be part of enforcing court orders, because disrespect for the court cannot be reconciled with our constitutional foundation of peace, order and good government," he wrote.
Goodwin must serve 30 days behind bars and then comply with previous court orders or he could face another contempt of court allegation.