Beaton worked as a prosecutor and state advocate from 1975-1981 before joining the Pretoria Bar in 1982. He practised until 1987 when he joined the Chamber of Mines as an assistant legal advisor. In 1989 he joined Rand Mines as industrial relations advisor before returning to the Bar in 1993. He took silk in 2010. Beaton has acted at the Labour Court for six days in total. Beaton hold a B.Juris and LLB form the University of Pretoria and a postgraduate Diploma in Advanced Labour Law from the University of Cape Town.
“In my own heart and head, I never did it,” said Advocate Russell Beaton SC.
Beaton was facing a barrage of questions from the Judicial Service Commission about being found guilty of “unbecoming and disgraceful” behaviour by the Pretoria Bar in June 2016. He was sentenced to a six month suspension suspended for three years for trying to influence an acting judge in chambers without the other party being present, and then replacing the Heads of Argument from the court documents.
During his interview Beaton insisted that he was innocent and had not pursued an appeal of the ruling in “the interests of the Bar” after seeking out the advice of two other senior counsel.
Judge Frans Kgomo, representing the judges president on the commission, said his attitude and refusal to withdraw his candidature “shows that you lack judgment”.
When asked about what public impression of the judiciary would be created if he were appointed, Beaton said that “broader South Africa will accept that people make mistakes… I’ve been tried and sentenced and its in the past.”
Well. Not quite. During his thirty-minute interview it became clear that Beaton was taking a beatin’ and would not be appointed.