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Law society hearing for former Alberta justice minister hears from former client

Jonathan Denis is currently before the law society, accused of professional misconduct.  (CBC - image credit)
Jonathan Denis is currently before the law society, accused of professional misconduct. (CBC - image credit)

Former Alberta justice minister Jonathan Denis's two-day law society hearing wrapped up Wednesday with lawyers agreeing to file written submissions before returning in April for oral arguments.

Denis, who opened a law firm after losing his seat in the 2015 election, was cited by the Law Society of Alberta on two counts of alleged professional misconduct.

In the first count, Denis is accused of acting in a conflict of interest by representing two families at the same time and then filing a lawsuit on behalf of one client against the other.

Denis admitted to being in a conflict but his lawyer argued the situation didn't rise to the level of sanctionable conduct.

In the second count, Denis is accused of threatening the employment of a woman on behalf of a client with whom she'd had an affair.

CBC News will name the two parties now that the woman (who filed the complaint against Denis) and man (Denis' former client) have both testified and neither asked for a ban on revealing their identities.

Allegations of harassment

In 2020, a four-month affair between Courtney McMullin and Casey Karpiuk ended when McMullin learned Karpiuk was married despite having told her he was separated.

The breakup took place around Nov. 11, 2020. In the following days, McMullin admitted to contacting Karpiuk's wife to tell her that her husband had lied to them both.

McMullin testified she only contacted the wife through social media over a 24-hour period and stopped after a phone call from the Airdrie RCMP.

But in his testimony Wednesday, Casey Karpiuk painted the harassment as relentless, taking place over a number of months.

Screen grabs of the contact were not entered as evidence at the hearing.

'You are employed as a peace officer'

Karpiuk's sister was described as a close friend of Denis, so he met with the lawyer who then wrote a cease and desist letter and sent it to McMullin.

The letter forms the basis of the law society charge against Denis.

At the time, McMullin was on leave from her job as a peace officer with Alberta Health Services (AHS). The letter acknowledged that fact and threatened to report her to AHS.

"We are also aware that you are employed as a peace officer," said Denis in his letter.

"Such conduct may verily fall outside of your code of conduct as part of your profession, and our client reserves any and all remedies should this conduct continue."

During his testimony, Karpiuk told law society counsel Shanna Hunka that he did disclose McMullin's workplace to Denis.

A day earlier, Denis testified, telling the panel that although he hadn't viewed any of the social media posts himself, he had no reason to doubt his client and was concerned McMullin's behaviour would rise to the level of criminal harassment.

Denis also said Karpiuk told him that McMullin was "using workplace resources to effect her harassment."

When he testified Wednesday, Karpiuk was also not asked about that assertion.