GUYSBOROUGH – Last March, the Nova Scotia Barristers Society (NSBS) disciplinary panel announced that lawyer Adam Rodgers would be suspended from practicing law for a period of 12 months for his role related to the fraudulent practices of his former partner in the law firm Boudrot Rodgers, Jason Boudrot, that came to light in 2018.
While the panel found that Rodgers had not aided and abetted Boudrot in the commission of fraud at the Port Hawkesbury-based law firm, they did find that he “was willfully blind of the activities of Jason Boudrot, thereby allowing it to continue.”
The initial sanction, released on March 23, 2021, stated that the suspension would come into effect as of July 1, 2021. Shortly thereafter, Rodgers requested that the decision be amended to allow him to complete his work on the Desmond Fatality Inquiry – an investigation into the deaths of Lionel Desmond, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, his wife Shanna, their 10-year-old daughter Aaliyah, and Mr. Desmond’s mother Brenda, in Upper Big Tracadie, Guysborough County on January 3, 2017 – which in not scheduled to conclude until September of this year.
Last week, the NSBS panel announced that Rodgers would be given a three-month extension on the start date of his suspension, allowing him to fulfill his obligations to the Desmond family.
Rodgers sent a written statement to The Journal regarding the extension last weekend which said, “There is great relief within the Desmond family, as well as among the officials leading and coordinating activity around the Inquiry, knowing now that I will be there to see it through. I have a personal sense of relief as well, now that there is at least some certainty to a situation that had the potential to be quite chaotic.”
He added, “The evidentiary portion of the Inquiry is now nearly complete. A few witnesses will be heard in early June, presuming the pandemic conditions allow. What remains after that is the examination of expert witnesses, which is set to take place in September, and then presenting the final submissions and recommendations. The recommendations from this Inquiry are expected to reverberate across the country, and be of great benefit to military veterans, as well as their families and communities.
In a letter Cassandra Desmond, sister of Lionel Desmond, wrote to the NSBS disciplinary panel in April, which was an exhibit at the hearing regarding Rodgers’ request for an extension of practice prior to the commencement of a one-year suspension, she asked that Rodgers continue to represent the Desmond family in the Fatality Inquiry.
The three-page letter, supplied to The Journal by Rodgers, stated in part: “Mr. Rodgers was with us from the beginning, with advice and support. He attended meetings with us early on with the NS Health Authority and with the Chief Medical Examiner which led to this Inquiry being called. He has helped our family understand the laws around inquiries, and what can be accomplished through that process. We could have chosen a lawyer from a larger firm based in Halifax or Ottawa, but our first choice was Mr. Rodgers. We trust his abilities, dedication, and understanding of where our family fits into this complex and difficult situation. This is the lawyer we wanted, and the lawyer we still want.”
Desmond continued, “I have spent many hours over the past nearly five years with Mr. Rodgers, talking about evidence, strategy, public comments, and everything else that goes into the decisions and thinking on a major undertaking such as this. It would be impossible to imagine trying to start that over with a new lawyer at this very late stage.”
She concluded, “If protection of the public and the public interest is your goal, then you should grant this request in the public interest. It is very important to us, and I believe to the success of the Inquiry as a whole, that Mr. Rodgers be able to continue to work on the Inquiry, and I urge you to vary your decision to allow that to happen.”
The Journal asked the NSBS to comment on the decision to grant an extension and was sent the following statement attributed to Jacqueline Mullenger, acting executive director on behalf of the Society, via email: “The suspension was delayed to allow Mr. Rodgers to complete his work on the Desmond Fatality Inquiry representing the Estate of Corp (Ret’d) Lionel Desmond. That was the deciding factor.”
Looking towards the future, Rodgers wrote, “My work on the Desmond Inquiry, along with concluding some other criminal cases, will be my focus for now, though I am also beginning to consider potential opportunities for when it is finished … I intend to present my ‘case study’ to the Professional Responsibility class at Dalhousie Law School, as well as to lawyers across Nova Scotia, telling of my experiences, and the lessons we can all learn. I have certainly learned lessons and feel stronger for having faced the adversity thrust upon me.
He concluded his comments by stating, “Most important, though, is the service I provide to others. I am grateful to be able to serve the Desmond family, and military families throughout Canada through this Inquiry, and am particularly thankful now that I can again give it my full effort and attention.”
Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal