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A A A  Stinchcombe isna€™t crazy about the expression a€?beat the rap.a€? His view of the whole mess is decidedly less romantic.
A A A  His ground of appeal was that during the trial the Crown refused to disclose important information to him. A A A  She indicated that she was no longer working for Stinchcombe on the date she had supposedly typed the document and seen Abrams sign it. A A A  The trial judge ruled that it was perfectly proper for the Crown not to disclose these items, and the Alberta Court of Appeal agreed. A A A  The prosecutor wasna€™t sure if Abrams might have lied when he made an earlier assignment in bankruptcy, or whether he might have lied at Stinchcombea€™s preliminary inquiry.
A A A  Stinchcombe was also turfed from his volunteer position with the Calgary Stampede, where he had worked extensively on the Indian Events Committee.
A A A  As bad as the fallout from the criminal charges was, Stinchcombea€™s suspension from the practice of law may have had greater impact a€“ at least, on his day-to-day life. A A A  Soon after this judgment was released Stinchcombe was reinstated to the Alberta bar.
A A A  Jerry Schwartz, a Calgary electrical engineer who also complained that Stinchcombe ripped him off, says the reinstatement is a€?the best thing that could have happened to me.
A A A  Apparently Stinchcombe persuaded Schwartz, who had become both a client and a friend, to lend him $310,000 to help finance a hotel. A A A  The court observed that at some point Stinchcombe sold the stock but the proceeds never made it to Schwartz.
A A A  Efforts to contact Jack Abrams who, if he is still with us, would be in his mid-eighties by now, were not successful.
A A A  Schwartz isna€™t bitter either, even though he took a financial hit and spent somewhere around $200,000 in legal fees pursuing various remedies, which he says he did a€?on principle.a€? He feels wronged, but he maintains a healthy perspective. There must be a lesson here, somewhere, although one probably wouldna€™t want to follow Stinchcombea€™sA exactA life-path. A A A  Although Stinchcombe became estranged from much of his family, he has largely reconciled.
A A A  He often wonders why the charges and complaints against him were pursued with such persistence and vigour, and whether, in regards to some of those charges and complaints, there might conceivably have been motivations other than the pure pursuit of justice. A A A  What would have happened if the smoking-gun memo had surfaced at the very beginning? The Heart of the Matter: What Does America Really Know about Coronary Artery Disease Treatments?


It was September of 1987 when the former Calgary lawyer found himself driving his pick-up truck, with a trailer full of horses in tow, through the Alberta Rockies. However, the mountaintop reprieve was not the end but the beginning of an odyssey of trouble. At the first trial, which occurred in February of 1989, he was convicted of criminal breach of trust, theft and fraud and sentenced to nine years in prison.
All he knew was that Lineham, his star witness who had testified so helpfully at the preliminary inquiry, had now changed her story, or done something else disastrous, and the Crown, having decided she was a€?not worthy of credit,a€? was opting not to call her as a witness.
As trial number three was gearing up, with the tape in hand, it emerged that there wassomething elseA the Crown should have disclosed but hadna€™t. Police interviewed Abramsa€™ lawyer to see what the heck was going on, but he had no memory of conversations with the prosecutor, or with Abrams, about lying. Finally, on April 26, 2002, the Alberta Court of Appeal stayed all Law Society charges against him.
Because if Stinchcombe starts making money, maybe Ia€™ll actually collect something.a€? Schwartz won a civil suit against him in March of 1994. According to the court, a€?Schwartz had no idea the hotel was facing foreclosure proceedings.a€? He also had no idea of the existence of Jack Abrams, and no idea that the stock Stinchcombe put up as collateral for the loan was clouded with dispute about who owned it a€“ Abrams claimed it was his, and that Stinchcombe had misappropriated it. It was, after all, the bitter recession and real estate crash of the early 1980s, and money was evaporating left, right and centre.
He often thinks about the old legal adage: cases are not won and lost on what actually happened, but on whatA evidenceA comes out in court. Stinchcombea€™s voice a€“ over the phone from Australia a€“ is velvety, seductive, and altogether pleasant. As he talks on the phone, his life-partner Margaret pipes up in the background: a€?We have a passion fruit on the vine!a€? He says the beach is visible in the distance, and the backyard is host to many attractive flora and fauna, including wild wallabies.
He figures that, afterA Stinchcombe, criminal lawyers suddenly needed twice as much office space to store all the disclosed documents.
But to Stinchcombe, having a Supreme Court decision of such monumental importance named after him is no big deal.
He was acquitted of the criminal charges, he had his licence to practise law reinstated, and he came out of it all with a smile.
He stood accused of misappropriating $1.6 million he allegedly held in trust for Calgary geologist Jack Abrams.
Then there wouldna€™t be a problem anymore.a€? What saved him was an eleventh-hour burst of sympathy for his animals.


They stayed alive seven years, during which he was put on trial three a€“ repeat,A threeA a€“ separate times. Previously, at the preliminary inquiry, Lineham had said some things that might have exonerated Stinchcombe a€“ she testified that she had typed and witnessed the signing of a document which purported to abolish all trust agreements between Stinchcombe and Abrams.
The police officer who possessed them had passed away of a brain tumor and his widow couldna€™t find them. There was a group a€“ the Magnificent Seven, he calls them a€“ who put up the $150,000 to bail him out of jail, where he was locked up for nearly a week. It appears to me that he became caught up with people living a lifestyle to which he aspired but could not attain by working merely as a lawyer. He was in serious trouble, and the enormity of his predicament hit home that September day as he negotiated the mountain road. The Crown managed to provide a photocopy of the statement andA transcriptsA of the tape, but Stinchcombe demanded the tape itself.
It was enough to prompt the Crown who now had carriage of the file, Tudor Beattie of Albertaa€™s Dept. I became paranoid to the extent that I didna€™t want to go anywhere for fear I would meet someone I knew and be snubbed.a€? He remembers one particular incident in a Calgary grocery store. Well, heA didA a€“ he ended up getting the principal of the loan back, from Stinchcombea€™s malpractice insurer. Although he now minimizes the lifestyle he came to lead, the fact is that he continually had a string of four to six polo ponies and related equipment and traveled around North America playing polo. Ita€™s all water under the bridge.a€? As for Stinchcombe, Schwartz thinks of him as a€?a very, very articulate and affable guy. Instead of ending up bitter and miserable, condemned to life of furtive wandering and resentful remembering, hea€™s at peace.
But it was because when there were arguments with the Stampede Board, or if the Indians needed something said for them, I was the one who did it.a€? And sometimes those arguments turned passionate.
And worse, it describes a Gordian knot of financial transactions so convoluted that reading about them could cause serious mental trauma, even a brain hemorrhage.
And then I said yeah, but if I do that, then my son wona€™t have anybody to go to the movies with on Friday night.



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