Three Court of Quebec judges appointed

Quebec Minister of Justice Stéphanie Vallée announced the appointment of three more Court of Quebec judges, with Stéphane Davignon and Luc Huppé appointed to the civil division in Montreal and Dany Pilon to the youth division in Saint-Jérôme.

Davignon, a graduate from the Université de Montréal, was admitted to the Barreau du Québec in 1994 and became a partner with Clément Davignon in 1998.

Huppé, admitted to the Quebec Bar in 1984 after graduating from Université Laval, was a partner with de Grandpré Joli-Cœur since 2008. He has been an assessor with the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal since 2009. He has also written extensively; his latest tome is entitled “La déontologie de la magistrature Droit canadien – Perspective internationale.”

Pilon began her career working with the City of Montreal after being admitted to the Bar in 1990. A graduate of the l’Université de Montréal, she has been working with the Centre communautaire juridique Laurentides-Lanaudière since 1999.

New Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs appointed

Marc Giroux, who has expressed some reservations about Bill C-337, the bill that would compel judges who hear sexual assault matters to take mandatory legal education, has been appointed as Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs, announced Federal Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould.

Giroux, a 1989 graduate of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Ottawa and three years later from the university’s Faculty of Law, has worked at the Office of Federal Judicial Affairs for the past 12 years, holding the positions of both Deputy Commissioner and Interim Commissioner.

The Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs (FJA) was created in 1978 under an Act of Parliament of Canada to safeguard the independence of the judiciary and put federally appointed judges at arm’s length from the Department of Justice. It also prepares a list of judicial vacancies, oversees the application process, supports the 17 judicial advisory committees that assess candidates, and prepares for the minister a list of eligible candidates from which to appoint. The commissioner and the office independent from the Department of Justice.

Tabled by interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose in February, Bill C-337 or the Judicial Accountability through Sexual Assault Law Training Act, appears to be a solid idea but has raised concerns over the independence of the judiciary.

Giroux, while deeming it to “completely fair and appropriate, in light of certain cases, that questions be asked about the training of judges in sexual assault law,” believes however that “the issue at stake is finding out the best way to achieve the objective.”

In testimony before the Standing Committee on the Status of Women this April, Giroux points out that the bill as it currently stands would have those who want to become judges complete education in the area of sexual assault law before they are appointed. As an administrator of the judicial appointments process, his office normally receives over 500 applications per year generally. This year however it has received 700 applications in less than six months.

“If education is to be provided before applicants become judges—that is, during the assessment process—and to a large number of candidates, our concern is that it will be more difficult to ensure they are properly educated, and that such training will not be exhaustive enough,” said Giroux.

“The important priorities of, on the one hand, ensuring an efficient assessment process for candidates, and on the other, ensuring that candidates are properly educated in the area of sexual assault law may come into conflict, and one or both of these priorities may suffer as a result. The effects in essence could be twofold: the assessment of candidates may be delayed, and on the other hand, the education candidates receive on sexual assault law may be less than adequate.”

Giroux believes that it may be best to provide such education once judges are newly appointed. The course could “perhaps” be approved by the Canadian Judicial Council.

Giroux has also shown that he has some mettle.

In 2014 Giroux, while FJA’s acting director, was involved in an imbroglio with the Public Service Commission, an independent agency charged with making appointments to the public service. But those powers can be delegated, in which case the PSC retains a supervisory function. The PSC granted the Federal Judicial Affairs its appointment and appointment-related powers — until it took away. And that in turn became the subject of a decision by the Federal Court of Canada.

Here’s what happened. The FJA has since 1996 coordinated the involvement of the Canadian judiciary in international exchanges and in judicial and court reform projects abroad. But in April 2011 the program was in danger of collapsing after the director of its international programs division unexpectedly quit.

Giroux, then the FJA’s acting director, approached Oleg Shakov, an Ottawa consultant who had done a similar job for the FJA from 2005 to 2009 and had the necessary skills and experience. Shakov initially declined but relented after another FJA official, Nikki Clemenhagen, proposed a one-year appointment. The new position was created, with an “English essential” language requirement. Shakov’s appointment became permanent in December 2012.

In 2013, the investigative branch of the Public Service Commission got involved after it conducted a routine audit of the Federal Judicial Affairs and “discovered” possible irregularities in the appointment process. After a documentary review, and interviewing several people, the investigation concluded that both Giroux and Clemenhagen acted improperly by tailoring the position’s language requirements to fit Shakov’s unilingual profile, and by opting for a non-advertised process without justification. As a result, the PSC revoked Shakov’s appointment “even though he had no hand in it,” suspended Giroux’s and Clemenhagen’s appointment powers, and rescinded the FJA’s delegated authority to reappoint Mr. Shakov to a different position.

But in 2015, days before Christmas, Federal Court of Canada Justice Danièle Tremblay-Lamer overturned the decision, holding that the PSC’s decision was unreasonable because it “failed to understand the quandary the FJA was in.”

“The choices made by the Acting Commissioner came within his broad managerial discretion, as intended by Parliament in enacting the Public Service Employment Act,, considering the situation with which he was faced,” said Justice Tremblay-Lamer in Shakov v. Canada (Attorney General), 2015 FC 1416. “His actions were an entirely reasonable short-term solution immediately available – and indeed it seems to have been the only possible decision.”

New federal director of Public Prosecutions appointed

Federal Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould announced the appointment of Kathleen Roussel, a former criminal lawyer, as the next director of Public Prosecutions.

Roussel, who graduated from the University of Ottawa’s French Common Law Program in 1992 and called to the bar in 1994, practised criminal law in Ottawa before joining the Department of Justice in 2001 as senior Counsel and director of the Canadian Firearms Centre Legal Services. Roussel then served as senior General Counsel and executive director of the Environment Legal Services Unit at the Department of Justice Canada (2005-2008) until her appointment as deputy director of the Public Prosecution Service of Canada in April 2013.

Roussel, a native of Baie-Comeau, Quebec, will serve as the new director for the next seven years, in accordance with the Director of Public Prosecutions Act.

The Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC), created on December 2006, with the coming into force of the Director of Public Prosecutions Act, is an independent prosecution service mandated to prosecute offences under the jurisdiction of the Attorney General of Canada. The PPSC reports to Parliament through the Attorney General of Canada.

Here is a video of Roussel responding to questions about her appointment as director of Public Prosecutions before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

Federal government announced two new appointments as well as a reshuffle in the Quebec courts

Barely a week after Quebec Minister of Justice Stephanie Vallée called on the federal government yet again to quickly appoint 10 new Superior Court justices in the province, the federal government announced two new appointments as well as a shake-up in the Quebec courts.

The latest appointments still falls short of what the Quebec government has been demanding. The president of the Quebec Bar, Paul-Matthieu Grondin, said in a tweet published shortly after the nominations that “the federal government MUST appoint judges to the Quebec Superior Court. Yesterday’s appointments are far from enough.”

Still, the new appointments and the reshuffle is nevertheless widely expected to make a dent in the backlog of cases that have plagued the Quebec criminal justice system, particularly since the landmark Jordan decision by the Supreme Court of Canada issued last summer.

Despite significant investments and the appointment of 20 Court of Quebec judges over the past six months by the Quebec government to curb delays in the criminal justice system, Quebec is struggling. The number of Jordan-related requests for a stay of proceedings keeps on surging. There were 895 Jordan applications as of late May, up from 684 at the end of March 2017.

Provincial attorney generals across the country hoping the SCC would back down from the trial timelines set by the Jordan ruling were disappointed after the nation’s highest court unequivocally reaffirmed them recently in R v. Cody 2017 SCC 31. In a unanimous decision, the SCC made it plain that it will not yield to provincial attorneys general struggling with the Jordan timelines.

Thanks to the appointments and reorganization, there will be four more Quebec Superior Court judges. Over the past month federal Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould appointed seven new Quebec Superior Court judges.

Quebec Court of Appeal Justice Étienne Parent and his colleague Jean-François Émond are heading back to Quebec Superior Court while Quebec Superior Court Justices Simon Ruel and Jocelyn Rancourt were appointed to the appeal court. Also Montreal lawyer Peter Kalichman and Quebec City family lawyer Marie-France Vincent were appointed as Quebec Superior Court Justices.

Biographies

Quebec Court of Appeal Justice Étienne Parent, who was appointed as a puisne judge in June 2015, was appointed as a Superior Court judge in Shawinigan. He replaces Quebec Superior Justice Raymond Pronovost, who chose to become a supernumerary judge in July 2016. A 1982 graduate from Université Laval who was admitted to the Québec Bar the following year, Justice Parent led the Quebec Superior Court Commercial Division for the District of Québec from 2007 to 2011, and then became coordinating judge for the District of Arthabaska, a position he held until his appointment to the Court of Appeal.

In a case of musical chairs, Quebec Appeal Court Justice Jean-François Émond was appointed as a Quebec Superior Court judge for the district of Quebec City, replacing Justice Simon Ruel, who has been elevated to the Quebec Court of Appeal. Justice Émond, received his civil law degree from Université Laval in 1988 and was called to the Quebec Bar in 1989, practised law with the firms of Stein Monast from 2007 to 2009, Desjardins Ducharme Stein Monast from 2003 to 2007, and Huot Laflamme (Marquis Huot) from 1988 to 2003. In May 2009, Justice Émond was named a judge of Quebec Superior Court, and became the coordinating judge of the Commercial Division for the district of Quebec City from 2010 to 2014. In June 2014, Justice Émond was appointed to the Quebec Court of Appeal.

Justice Ruel, who was appointed to the Quebec Superior Court in 2014, practised mainly in public and administrative law and government affairs while a lawyer. A member of the Quebec Bar (1995) and of the Law Society of Upper Canada (2007), he began his career with the firm Grey Casgrain, and then became a litigator and counsel to the federal Department of Justice, the Privy Council Office, and the Department of Finance. Before his appointment, he was a partner with the firm BCF Business Law in Quebec City; previously, he had been a partner with Heenan Blaikie.

Justice Ruel participated as counsel in numerous federal and provincial public inquiries and investigations, including the federal Commission of Inquiry into the Sponsorship Program and Advertising Activities, the Cornwall Public Inquiry, and the Commission of Inquiry on the Process for Appointing Judges. He also participated in the coroner’s inquest into deaths caused by Legionnaires’ disease in Quebec City in 2012 and represented the Manitoba Commission of Inquiry into the Circumstances Surrounding the Death of Phoenix Sinclair. Justice Ruel currently serves on the executive of the Canadian Bar Association Judges’ Forum.

Newly appointed Quebec appeal court justice Rancourt received a Bachelor’s of Social Science (industrial relations) from Université Laval in 1981 and a law degree from the same university in 1984. Admitted to the Quebec Bar in 1985, he began his legal career with McDougall Caron in Montreal. In 1988, he joined the firm of Ogilvy Renault (now Norton Rose Fulbright) to practise labour and employment law. Justice Rancourt was national chair of the firm’s labour and employment law group and a member of its national executive committee until his appointment to the Superior Court of Quebec in June 2015. Justice Rancourt published numerous articles and made presentations at conferences on topics related to human rights, labour law, and occupational health and safety.

Superior Court Justice Kalichman, a well-known Montreal civil and commercial litigator, was prior to his appointment a partner at Irving Mitchell Kalichman LLP. A B.A. graduate from McGill University before attending the Université de Montréal, where he earned a law degree, Justice Kalichman practised as a trial lawyer. He also acted as an arbitrator on the Conseil d’arbitrage des comptes des avocats du Barreau du Québec. Throughout his career, Justice Kalichman received wide recognition for his accomplishments as a trial lawyer, including being named a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, which is recognized as the preeminent organization of trial lawyers in North America. Apart from his involvement in law, Justice Kalichman has been an active member of Montreal’s Jewish community over the past 25 years.

Justice Vincent, who too graduated from Laval University in 1995, was admitted to the Quebec Bar in 1996. She specialized in family law and became a certified family mediator in 2007. She served as a board member of the Association des familialistes de Québec where she from 2009 and was president from 2011 to 2013.

 

 

Quebec government appoints three new judges

The Quebec government is ramping its judicial appointments to ease the growing backlog of cases in the justice system.

Quebec Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée announced the appointment of three new Court of Quebec judges, making it the 20th judge the provincial government has appointed this year. Last December the Quebec government announced it was going to pour $175.2 million over the next four years to recruit new judges, prosecutors and support staff to help curb mounting court delays. So far the Quebec government has hired 52 Crown prosecutors and 50 support staff, 38 correctional services officers, 16 special constables, 32 probation officers and more support staff at the Quebec Ministry of Justice. All told more than 300 have been hired.

The new Court of Quebec judges are Nathalie Duchesneau, Peggy Warolin and Patrick Choquette.

Judge Duchesneau, a graduate from the Université de Montréal, was admitted to the Quebec Bar in 1993 and began her career with the Quebec Director of criminal and penal prosecutions (DPCP). She has been a Montreal municipal judge since 2012, and will sit in the criminal and penal division in Montreal.

Judge Warolin, a solo lawyer with experience in litigation, civil law, administrative law, family law, and youth protection, will sit Rouyn-Noranda. Born in France, Judge Warolin moved to Canada for her education and graduated from the Université Laval and was admitted to the Quebec Bar in 2004. She was president of the Bar of Abitibi-Témiscamingue, member of the General Council of the Quebec Bar, and member of the Board of Directors of the Association des avocats et avocates de province (provincial lawyers’ association). As a member of the Quebec Bar, Judge Warolin has been involved in several missions to Inuit communities across Canada’s North and co-authored the report entitled, le Rapport sur les missions du Barreau du Québec auprès des communautés autochtones du Grand Nord québécois.

Judge Choquette, a partner with the law firm Prévost Fortin D’Aoust, began his practice in 1985 as a civil and commercial litigator and focused his career on real estate, construction law, and labour relations. He was appointed chair of the disciplinary committee of the Association des courtiers et agents immobiliers du Québec by the Québec government in 2006 and then vice-chair of the disciplinary committee of the Organisme d’autoréglementation du courtage immobilier du Québec by the Minister of Finance in 2010 – a position he held until 2015. He will be hearing civil matters in Joliette.

The hunt for new provincial judges is not over. The Quebec government is looking for candidates to sit in the criminal and penal division in Trois-Rivières and the youth protection division in Saint-Hyacinthe, More information can be found here.

Montreal legal aid lawyer appointed Quebec Superior judge

A Montreal legal aid lawyer with a remarkable personal journey has become the latest judicial appointment to Quebec Superior Court, marking the fifth Quebec Superior Court judge to be appointed over the past month by federal Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould.

The appointment, coupled with the recent appointment of 16 Court of Quebec judges by the provincial government, are widely expected to make a dent in the backlog of cases that have plagued the Quebec criminal justice system, particularly since the landmark Jordan decision by the Supreme Court of Canada issued last summer. The Quebec Director of criminal and penal prosecutions (DPCP) revealed that there are 684 Jordan applications as of March 23, 2017, a figure that has tripled in the space of three months.

The latest appointment still falls short of what the Quebec government has been demanding.  The provincial government asserts that it needs 14 new Superior Court judges to deal with the bottleneck in the criminal justice system.

Aline Quach, a lawyer at the Bureau d’aide juridique Maisonneuve-Mercier, was appointed a judge of the Superior Court of Quebec for the districts of Abitibi, Rouyn-Noranda and Témiscamingue. She replaces Justice J.F. Buffoni (Montreal), who chose to become a supernumerary judge as of February 2017. Because of internal transfers requested by the Chief Justice, this vacancy is located in Amos.

Justice Quach, who graduated from the Université de Montréal in 1994 and was called to the Quebec Bar in 1996, has focused on family law and international child abduction as well as civil and administrative law.

Born in Saigon, Vietnam, Justice Quach lived in a refugee camp in Guam when she was two years old before landing in Quebec with her family as a refugee. Her parents wanted her to become a dentist, doctor or pharmacist but she had her mind set on studying law. Indeed, a profile of her jests that her very first oral argument was to convince her parents to let her register at the faculty of law at the Université de Montréal.

Justice Quach, who speaks fluent French, English, Spanish and Vietnamese has been extensively involved with the Barreau de Montréal, and served on committees focused on mentorship and ethno-cultural diversity. She is also a member of Maison Daluze, a shelter for women who have suffered violence.

Ottawa appoints four new Quebec judges

After months of stalling, the federal government has finally appointed four new Quebec Superior Court justices in the district of Montreal.

The appointments, coupled with the recent appointment of 16 Court of Quebec judges by the provincial government, are widely expected to make a small dent in the backlog of cases that have plagued the Quebec criminal justice system, particularly since the landmark Jordan decision by the Supreme Court of Canada issued last summer. The Quebec Director of criminal and penal prosecutions (DPCP) revealed that there are 684 Jordan applications as of March 23, 2017, a figure that has tripled in the space of three months.

The Quebec provincial government has asserted that it needs 14 new Superior Court judges to deal with the bottleneck in the criminal justice system. Before the four appointments, there were six vacancies at the Quebec Superior Court.

The new justices are Montreal lawyer Karen Rogers, who fills a new judicial position, Christine Baudouin who replaces Justice Marc De Wever, law professor Frédéric Bachand who replaces Justice Sylvie DeVito, and Crown Prosecutor Daniel Royer who replaces Justice Pepita Capriolo.

Madam Justice Rogers, a partner with the Montreal-based law firm Langlois Avocats, has over 28 years of litigation experience in civil and commercial matters. Over the years she has also developed a strong expertise in professional liability and discipline. Besides teaching at the Quebec Bar’s school, she has served as a mentor to young woman at the Association of Quebec Women in Finance.

Madam Justice Baudouin, a Montreal lawyer with Casavant Mercier Avocats, specializes in civil and public law involving civil liability, defamation and health law matters. She also had an active practice in labour law and professional law, and has acted in several class action matters. She is also an ethics expert, having served on the Ethics Committee of the West Island Integrated University Health and Social Services Centre and the Research Ethics Committee of McGill University. Justice Baudouin is also involved with charities that tackle autism and women’s health.

Justice Bachand, an associate professor at the Faculty of Law at McGill University, taught legal interpretation, alternative dispute resolution, and evidence. His scholarship focuses primarily on domestic and international arbitration. Justice Bachand has served as an accredited arbitrator in both domestic and international cases. He holds doctorates from the Université de Montréal and the Université Panthéon-Assas, in addition to an LL.M. from the University of Cambridge and an LL.B. from the Université de Montréal. In recognition of his contributions to the law and to legal education, he was named Advocatus Emeritus (Ad. E.) by the Barreau du Québec and received the John W. Durnford Teaching Excellence Award at McGill University.

Justice Daniel Royer, an experienced criminal lawyer, has exclusively practised criminal and penal law since his call to the bar in 1996. He practised for 15 years as defence counsel before becoming a Crown prosecutor in 2011. He has taught criminal law and evidence at O’Sullivan College of Montreal, in addition to teaching a course linked to the Gale Cup moot at the Université de Montréal.