VICTORIA - The B.C. government is appointing nine new provincial court judges and working with the judiciary to address court backlogs through two projects, Minister of Justice and Attorney General Shirley Bond announced today.
Today's announcement delivers on recommendations made in Geoffrey Cowper's report, A Criminal Justice System for the 21st Century, and the subsequent action plan announced in the first part of the white paper on justice reform.
Chief judge Thomas Crabtree will assign the nine judges to courts in communities throughout the province. The new judges are all distinguished lawyers who bring to the bench a wide range of legal expertise.
The B.C. government and the Office of the Chief Judge have also signed a protocol agreement to work together on two backlog reduction projects. As part of the agreement, the chief judge will assign the equivalent of one full-time judge to the projects over the next year.
One of the projects will start in spring 2013 and focus on reducing pending child protection cases in selected courthouse locations. A second backlog reduction project will begin later in 2013 and focus on reducing the criminal case backlog.
With these new appointees, B.C. now has 132 full-time-equivalent judges. It costs the Province close to $1.6 million annually to support a judge, including the judge's salary and costs for court administration staff, sheriffs, prosecution services and judicial support.
As recommended in the Cowper report, the B.C. government is consulting with the provincial court judiciary to establish a method for determining a set judicial complement. It is anticipated that this new approach will use evidence-based information to both identify possible efficiencies and better align judicial resources to workload and other demands.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General Shirley Bond -
"The addition of nine new judges and the backlog reduction projects - and specifically the assignment of judicial resources to these projects - signal a shared understanding by all parties that changes need to be made to improve the justice system. These are important steps to justice reform and demonstrate that government is committed to following through on recommendations made by Geoffrey Cowper."
"I want to acknowledge that the judiciary and the Ministry of Justice are working together to develop innovative methods to manage the courts and reduce backlogs so that the needs of British Columbians are addressed in a timely manner."
- The appointments take effect over the next seven weeks.
- 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 council recommends potential judges to the attorney general, with the final appointment made through a cabinet order-in-council.
- The B.C. government will announce the rest of the justice reform action plan in White Paper: Part Two early in the new year.
Information about B.C.'s justice reform initiative can be found at: http://www.ag.gov.bc.ca/justice-reform-initiatives/
More information about the judicial appointment process can be found at: www.provincialcourt.bc.ca.
Public Affairs Officer
Ministry of Justice
Judicial assignments and biographies
The chief judge has assigned the judges as follows:
- Surrey will receive two judges.
- Port Coquitlam will receive one judge.
- North Vancouver will receive one judge.
- Vancouver will receive one judge.
- Kamloops/Okanagan will receive one judge.
- Northwest district will receive one judge.
Additionally, two judges will be assigned out of the Office of the Chief Judge on an interim basis, in part to assist with projects focused on reducing child protection case backlogs and criminal case backlogs.
Andrea Brownstone received a law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1978 and has practised law in B.C. for over 25 years. Brownstone brings significant legal experience in civil litigation, mediation and administrative and family law. She joined the Law Society of British Columbia as a staff lawyer in 2005 and has been a manager with the society since 2008. Brownstone has been a member of the legislation and law reform committee of B.C. branch of the Canadian Bar Association since 2008. The appointment is effective Jan. 2, 2013.
Bonnie Craig received a law degree from the University of British Columbia in 1992. She was called to the bar in 1993 and brings over 18 years of legal experience, focused primarily in criminal law. Craig currently works as a prosecutor with the Tsawwassen First Nation and also does case review work for the Legal Services Society. She was also the chair of the criminal justice subsection of the Canadian Bar Association between 1997 and 2000. The appointment is effective Jan. 23, 2013.
Garth Smith is currently a prosecutor with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada. He received a law degree from the University of Saskatchewan in 1989 and was called to the bar in 1990. Smith has practised in civil litigation and family and criminal law, focusing exclusively in criminal matters for the past 12 years. Since 2007, Smith has been a board member of the Canadian Association of Drug Treatment Court Professionals. The appointment is effective Dec. 7, 2012.
James Sutherland received a law degree from Queen's University in 1989 and was called to the bar in 1990. Sutherland is currently a partner with Sutherland Jette Barristers in Vancouver. He has practised law for over 21 years, working exclusively on criminal matters since 1992. Additionally, since 1994 Sutherland has been a member of the leadership council of Special Olympics BC. The appointment is effective Jan. 11, 2013.
Jennifer Oulton is currently a Crown counsel lawyer with the criminal justice branch of the B.C. government. She received a law degree from McGill University in 1994 and was called to the bar in 1997. Oulton has practised in civil litigation and criminal law. The appointment is effective Jan. 7, 2013.
Kathryn Denhoff received a law degree from the University of Alberta in 1985 and was called to the bar in 1986. In addition to her law degree, Denhoff received certificates from Harvard Law School in negotiation in 1998 and mediation in 1999. Since 1994, she has been a partner with Davis LLP in Vancouver and has worked in civil and criminal litigation. The appointment is effective Jan. 4, 2013.
Roger Cutler is currently a Crown counsel lawyer with the criminal justice branch of the B.C. government. He received a law degree from McGill University in 1984 and was called to the bar in 1985. Cutler has experience in civil litigation and criminal, constitutional, aboriginal and family law and is a founding member of the Vancouver Island Criminal Justice Association. The appointment is effective Jan. 3, 2013.
Ronald Lamperson is currently a partner at Marshall and Lamperson in Qualicum Beach. He received a law degree from the University of British Columbia in 1989 and was called to the bar in 1990. Lamperson brings over 21 years of legal experience and has practised in criminal and family law and civil litigation. He has been the president of the Continuing Legal Education Society of B.C. since July 2011. The appointment is effective Jan. 4, 2013.
William Jackson received a law degree from the University of Saskatchewan in 1980 and was called to the bar in 1981. He brings over 30 years of legal experience and has practised in civil litigation and criminal, family, labour and mental health law. Since 1993, Jackson has been an administrative Crown counsel with the criminal justice branch of the B.C. government. He has also been the treasurer of Pro-Bono Law B.C. since 2005. The appointment is effective Dec. 17, 2012.
Public Affairs Officer
Ministry of Justice