The British Columbia government is appointing seven new provincial court judges to address upcoming retirements to ensure the judiciary has the resources to continue to provide access to justice. The appointments and effective dates are:
- Judge Cathaline Heinrichs – Jan. 3, 2017
- Judge Cassandra Malfair – Jan. 9, 2017
- Judge Susan Mengering – Jan. 9, 2017
- Judge Brian Hutcheson – Jan. 16, 2017
- Judge Peter LaPrairie – Jan. 16, 2017
- Judge Lynal Doerksen – Jan. 30, 2017
- Judge Patricia Stark – Jan. 30, 2017
Government and the public rely on judges for their integrity and impartiality and trust they will deliver fair, learned decisions. These qualities are essential for maintaining the public’s confidence in the courts and are a vital component of any democratic justice system.
British Columbia’s judicial system is recognized as one of the best in the world because of the diversity, experience and knowledge of its judges. The chief judge determines the locations to which judges are assigned in order to meet the needs of the court.
- These seven judicial appointments will replace judges who have either retired or moved to senior court appointments.
- The process to appoint judges involves several steps:
- Interested lawyers apply and the B.C. Judicial Council, a committee made up of the chief judge, other judges, lawyers and lay people, reviews the candidates.
- The committee recommends potential judges to the attorney general, with the final appointment made through a cabinet order-in-council.
- Although judges are located in a judicial region, many travel regularly throughout the province to meet changing demands.
Information about the judicial appointment process: www.provincialcourt.bc.ca
A backgrounder follows.
Government Communications and Public EngagementMinistry of Justice
Judge Cathaline Heinrichs received a bachelor of laws (LLB) from the University of British Columbia in 1992 and was called to the bar in 1994. During her career she has focused on family law. As a sole practitioner since 2000, Heinrichs has worked in adoption, child protection, advocacy for special needs children and family, and separation and divorce in both provincial and supreme courts. A resident of Kelowna, she has been active as a volunteer in local organizations.
Judge Cassandra Malfair is a Crown counsel in Prince George where she is a senior trial Crown and prosecutes major cases. Her experience includes insolvency and constitutional law, as well as regulatory experience in securities and insurance. After graduating with an LLB from UBC in 2000, Malfair held positions in two firms in private practice in Vancouver and Calgary before joining the Ministry of Justice in 2007.
Judge Susan Mengering has spent most of her career in criminal law since her graduation with an LLB from UBC in 2000. Since 2003, Mengering has served as Crown counsel for the Ministry of Justice and initially prosecuted cases in Fort Ware/TsayKeh, Mackenzie, Valemount and McBride. Now based primarily in Prince George, she has worked on increasingly complex files as a trial lawyer and volunteers with community organizations.
Judge Brian Hutcheson was called to the bar in 1985 after receiving an LLB from the University of Victoria. He has practised civil and criminal litigation and appeared at all levels of court in B.C. Hutcheson joined Swift Datoo Law Corporation of Courtenay in 1989 and is the partner in charge of litigation. In his practice, a mix of family and civil litigation, he uses mediation and negotiation extensively to resolve files.
Judge Peter LaPrairie earned an LLB from the University of Victoria in 1989 and a master of laws (LLM) from the criminal law program at the Osgoode Hall Law School of York University. For more than 20 years, LaPrairie has served as a federal prosecutor and is currently general counsel for the Public Prosecution Service of Canada in Vancouver. He has been an active supporter of many community events and organizations in the Lower Mainland.
Judge Lynal Doerksen has practised in many areas of litigation, including family, employment, commercial, personal injury and criminal and has appeared before all levels of court in B.C. and Alberta. After receiving an LLB from the University of Alberta, Doerksen served as Crown counsel in Alberta and since 2005 has been administrative Crown counsel in Cranbrook. He has been published in the Criminal Law Quarterly and the Advocate.
Judge Patricia Stark earned an LLB from the University of Calgary and began practice as a criminal defence counsel. She joined the Ministry of Justice in 1992 and served as Crown counsel until 2002, at which time she became a sole practitioner and criminal defence counsel. Stark represents the mentally ill before the courts and the B.C. Review Board and has become a resource on this topic, as well as criminal law, for lawyers, judges and other professionals.