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Respected Alberta lawyer lied to clients about appeals

Man admits he told his jailed clients he was trying to free them, when he wasn’t; blames undiagnosed depression for actions

By Gordon Kent

EDMONTON — In an extraordinary case of legal neglect, top criminal lawyer Rick Stroppel left five clients languishing in prison for years thinking he’d filed appeals for them when he actually never did.

All were serving long sentences — four are convicted murderers, including Roy Sobotiak, found guilty of killing a babysitter Susan Kaminsky in a sensational 1991 trial.

Mr. Stroppel, one of Alberta’s most respected defence lawyers, admitted at a Law Society of Alberta discipline hearing last week that he let them all down.

He pleaded guilty to failing to serve his clients in a diligent and efficient manner, as well as lying to Mr. Sobotiak, the result of a long, undiagnosed depression that led him to quit work abruptly in June 2002.

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