VICTORIA - The B.C. government is appointing two judges to the British Columbia Provincial Court, helping to alleviate caseload pressures and improve access to justice, Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton announced today.
The chief judge is responsible for assigning the newly appointed judges. Judge Steven Point will be assigned to Abbotsford in the Fraser Region and Judge Shannon Keyes will be assigned to Prince George in the Northern Region.
Judge Point's appointment is effective March 3, 2014, and Judge Keyes' appointment is effective Feb. 25, 2014.
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.
Under B.C.'s Justice Reform and Transparency Act, government has committed to working with the chief judge to develop a formula for determining the appropriate judicial complement for the Provincial Court. While this work is underway, government will continue to discuss judicial appointments with the chief judge and make appointments, as appropriate, to address matters such as judicial vacancies and case backlog. The province is also engaged with the chief judge to develop and implement measures to increase court efficiencies in the justice system and help reduce court delays.
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.
More information about the judicial appointment process can be found at: www.provincialcourt.bc.ca
Information about B.C.'s justice reform initiative can be found at: http://www.ag.gov.bc.ca/justice-reform-initiatives/
A backgrounder follows.
Ministry of Justice
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Provincial Court judge biographies
Judge Steven Point - Judge Steven Point was first appointed to the Provincial Court in 1999, but took a leave of absence in 2005 when he was appointed chief commissioner of the British Columbia Treaty Process. He retired from the bench in October 2007 when he was appointed as British Columbia's Lieutenant Governor, a position he held until 2012. Judge Steven Point also served as chair of the advisory committee on the safety and security of vulnerable women between December 2012 and May 2013.
From 1975 to 1999, Judge Steven Point served as chief of the Skowkale First Nation. While serving as chief, he attended the University of British Columbia, where he graduated with a bachelor of laws degree in 1985. He practiced criminal law and native law as a partner at Point and Shirley Law Firm between 1986 and 1989. He then worked for Citizenship and Immigration Canada for 10 years before being appointed to the Provincial Court in 1999.
Judge Shannon Keyes - Judge Shannon Keyes has been practicing law for 26 years. She was first called to the bar in 1986 after earning her bachelor of laws degree from the University of Victoria in 1985. Judge Shannon Keyes was an associate at Rubin-Haws and Associates, Barristers and Solicitors between 1987 and 1988, and began her own practice in 1991. She joined Cobbett and Cotton Barristers and Solicitors in September 1994 as an associate, and six years later joined the Criminal Justice Branch as Crown counsel, a position she has held until her appointment to the bench.
Outside of her law career, Judge Shannon Keyes has been a co-owner of an organic farm and co-owner of a property maintenance and renovation business. She is also an avid cross-country skier, and has volunteered as a coach for the Caledonia Nordic Ski Club and coached the Rocky Mountain Rangers Army Cadets biathlon team.
Ministry of Justice
Gvernment Communications and Public Engagement