Ontario lawyer and part-time judge Robert Stewart lost his licence to practise two years ago because his twin addictions and a psychiatric condition derailed his career.
Stewart was snorting cocaine in the small claims court judge’s chambers in Woodstock and St. Thomas and at his law office in Tillsonburg where he kept a silver box stuffed with the drug.
The combination of his addictions — cocaine and alcohol — and his borderline personality disorder prompted the Law Society of Ontario to suspend his licence with Stewart’s consent in 2017.
He appeared sober and clean before a law society tribunal on Wednesday, capping his dramatic rehabilitation by regaining his licence with 25 conditions.
“It takes a great deal of courage for you to have achieved this,” said tribunal chairman Raj Anand to Stewart, 49. “You and (law society prosecutor Elaine) Strosberg have worked to fashion a result that balances the protection of the public with the recognition of need for regulators to accommodate mental illness and substance abuse issues.”
A psychiatric report indicated Stewart has been in remission since December. He gave the tribunal results of urinalysis tests confirming he has been sober for two months.
He has been ordered to undergo more drug testing to ensure he remains sober or face another suspension.
Stewart, a divorced father of two adult children, is hoping to land a job with a firm in Collingwood and resume the legal career that he started in 1998.
Stewart’s law clerk — who witnessed the lawyer snorting cocaine at his office and in judge’s chambers at the courts — reported Stewart was “super out of control” between May and July 2017.
“Over the last three months, I have not seen Mr. Stewart sober and I attend court with him constantly as he has become unable to drive or conduct himself appropriately,” she told law society investigators.
The law clerk — whose identity is redacted in tribunal documents — said she approached the law society to report his irresponsible conduct.
Stewart’s fiance had suggested the clerk’s “life would be in danger” if she reported Stewart, according to tribunal documents.
“(Stewart) knows people who can make people disappear,” the clerk was told.
Stewart denied knowing dangerous drug dealers. Initially, he blamed the clerk for his downfall and asserted she acted out of revenge because of her dismissal.