The Honourable W. Paul Riley’s Questionnaire
Under the new judicial appointment process introduced by the Minister of Justice on October 20, 2016, any interested and qualified Canadian lawyer or judge may apply for such appointment by completing a questionnaire. The questionnaires are then used by the Judicial Advisory Committees across Canada to review candidates and submit a list of “highly recommended” and “recommended” candidates for consideration by the Minister of Justice. Candidates are advised that parts of their questionnaire could be made available to the public, with their consent, should they be appointed to the bench.
Below are Parts 5, 6, 7, and 11 of the questionnaire completed by the Honourable W. Paul Riley.
Questionnaire for Judicial Appointment
PART 5 – LANGUAGE
Please note that in addition to the answers to the questions set out below you may be assessed as to your level of language proficiency.
Without further training, are you able to read and understand court materials in:
- English: yes
- French: no
Without further training, are you able to discuss legal matters with your colleagues in:
- English: yes
- French: no
Without further training, are you able to converse with counsel in court in:
- English: yes
- French: no
Without further training, are you able to understand oral submission in court in:
- English: yes
- French: no
PART 6 – EDUCATION
Name of Institutions, Years Attended, Degree/Diploma and Year Obtained:
- Dalhousie University, 1989-1992. Three years of study toward B.Comm before matriculating to law school.
- Dalhousie University, 1992-1995. LL.B. obtained in 1995.
Honours and Awards:
- Appointed Queen’s Counsel in British Columbia in December 2014.
PART 7 – PROFESSIONAL AND EMPLOYMENT HISTORY
Please include a chronology of work experience, starting with the most recent and showing employers’ names and dates of employment. For legal work, indicate areas of work or specialization with years and, if applicable, indicate if they have changed.
Legal Work Experience:
- January 2016 to the present. Senior General Counsel, Public Prosecution Service of Canada (“PPSC”). This is a national position with three basic components: (1) conduct of (and direct supervision of litigation teams involved in) complex organized crime, drug, terrorism, and regulatory prosecutions at all levels of court throughout Canada, (2) advising federal law enforcement agencies in relation to issues of criminal and constitutional law, (3) providing ongoing training in criminal and constitutional law for PPSC counsel and investigators in various federal law enforcement agencies including the RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency, and the Canada Revenue Agency.
- July 2012-December 2015. General Counsel, Appeals Team Leader. PPSC British Columbia Region, Vancouver, British Columbia. This position involved supervision of the PPSC, BC Region appeals group, and included conduct of complex criminal appeals, supervision of all appellate chambers work in the British Columbia Court of Appeal, quality control and review of pleadings filed in appeals conducted by the PPSC in British Columbia, advising senior management with respect to appeals and emerging trends in criminal prosecutions and constitutional law, advising investigative agencies and other government departments with respect to complex legal issues arising in criminal prosecutions, and assisting in prosecutor training and development. I was also the chairperson of the PPSC British Columbia Region Appeals Committee.
- December 2004-February 2008. Crown Counsel, PPSC, British Columbia Region, Vancouver, British Columbia. The position involved conduct of criminal prosecutions and appeals under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code, and other federal statutes including the Customs Act, Income Tax Act, Fisheries Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. In the final two years in the position, the bulk of the work was in criminal appeals. In March of 2006, I was appointed as the appeals coordinator for the PPSC, BC Region.
- September 2003-December 2004. Crown Counsel (Proceeds of Crime), Department of Justice Canada, Vancouver, British Columbia. The position involved providing legal advice and litigation services to the RCMP Integrated Proceeds of Crime Unit with respect to long-term complex proceeds of crime and money laundering investigations.
- February 2002-September 2003. Crown Counsel (Organized Crime), Department of Justice Canada, Atlantic Regional Office, Halifax, Nova Scotia. This position involved the conduct of complex criminal prosecutions involving organized crime, and providing advice to the RCMP and other investigative agencies regarding various investigative techniques including electronic surveillance, search warrants, and other forms of judicial authorization.
- August 1997-February 2002. Crown Counsel, Department of Justice Canada, British Columbia Regional Office, Vancouver, British Columbia. This position involved the conduct of federal prosecutions pursuant to various federal statutes including the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, Customs Act, Income Tax Act and other regulatory and environmental statutes.
- August 1995-August 1996. Articled Student. Department of Justice Canada, British Columbia Regional Office, Vancouver, British Columbia. This position involved the completion of rotations in the Civil Litigation Section, Tax Litigation Section, Property Law Section, and Criminal Prosecution Section.
- May 1995-August 1995. Summer Intern and Assistant to General Counsel, Oiltools (Europe) Ltd., Aberdeen, Scotland. The position involved research and drafting of various corporate and legal documents on behalf of the general counsel for a multi-national oilfield services company.
- May 1994-August 1994. Summer Law Clerk. Department of Justice Canada, British Columbia Regional Office, Vancouver, British Columbia. This position involved research and appearing in court with respect to matters in the Civil Litigation Section and the Criminal Prosecution Section of the Department of Justice Canada, British Columbia Regional Office.
Non-Legal Work Experience:
- Summer 1993. Research Clerk, Alumni Fundraising. Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia.
- Summer 1992. Computer Camp Instructor. Pictou County School Board, New Glasgow, Nova Scotia.
- Summer 1991. Computer Camp Instructor. Pictou County School Board, New Glasgow, Nova Scotia.
- Summer 1990. Landscaper. Halifax Housing Authority, Halifax, Nova Scotia.
- Summer 1989. Recreation Counselor. Town of New Glasgow Recreation Department, New Glasgow, Nova Scotia.
Other Professional Experience:
List all bar associations, legal or judicial-related committees of which you are or have been a member, and give the titles and dates of any offices which you have held in such groups.
- British Columbia Court of Appeal Criminal Practice Advisory Group. I have been a member of this group since 2010. This group meets several times per year to provide ongoing input to the Court of Appeal and the Registrar regarding improvements to rules and best practices in relation to criminal appeals.
- PPSC National Litigation Committee. I have been a member of this committee since 2007. This is a committee comprised of senior PPSC counsel, responsible for providing advice and recommendations to the Director of Public Prosecutions (“DPP”) in respect of appeals, pleadings, and legal positions taken in the Supreme Court of Canada, as well as other PPSC litigation with national implications.
- PPSC National Prosecution Policy Committee. I have been a member of this committee since 2009. This is a committee comprised of senior PPSC counsel across the country, responsible for providing advice and recommendations to the DPP in respect of confidential legal advice and practice directives to be circulated to all PPSC counsel. The committee is also involved in an ongoing revision of the PPSC's prosecution Deskbook, a reference book setting out guidelines to be followed by PPSC counsel in the conduct of prosecution and other litigation on behalf of the DPP. Since my appointment as Senior General Counsel in January 2016, I have become an ex officio member of this committee.
- PPSC, BC Region Appeals Committee. I have been a member of this committee since 2005. This is a committee comprised of senior appellate counsel in the PPSC, BC Regional Office, responsible for providing advice and recommendations to the Chief Federal Prosecutor, BC Region, in respect of appeals conducted by PPSC in the British Columbia Court of Appeal and the British Columbia Supreme Court. From 2008 to 2015, I was the chairperson of the committee. Since my appointment as Senior General Counsel, I have resumed a role as a member of the committee.
Pro Bono Activities:
- Access Pro Bono Clinic (the Gathering Place, Vancouver). Approximately one evening per month, I provide pro bono legal services to clients at the Gathering Place community centre.
Teaching and Continuing Education:
List all legal or judicial educational organizations and activities you have been involved with (e.g. teaching course at a law faculty, bar association, National Judicial Institute, or the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice).
- Annually since 2008. Public Prosecution Service of Canada Annual School for Prosecutors, Ottawa. I am a regular presenter at both the introductory program and advanced program in the PPSC’s annual week-long school for prosecutors.
- September 2016. “Tech Device Searches: Current and Emerging Legal Issues,” Osgoode Professional Development, 14th National Symposium on Search and Seizure Law in Canada, Vancouver, British Columbia.
- April 2015. “Informer Privilege,” Canadian Bar Association, Criminal Justice 2015, Vancouver, British Columbia. Panelist with Mr. Justice Frankel of the British Columbia Court of Appeal and Greg DelBigio, Q.C.
- April 2015. Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia, Appellate Advocacy 2015, Vancouver, British Columbia. Co-chaired this one-day program on appellate advocacy and practice.
- March 2015. “Common Evidentiary Issues in Drug Prosecutions,” National Judicial Institute, Vancouver, British Columbia. Panelist with Madam Justice Steel of the Manitoba Court of Appeal, Richard Peck, Q.C., and Professor Stephen Coughlan, Dalhousie University.
- January 2014. “Search Warrants for Computers and Electronic Devices,” Judicial Justice of the Peace Training, Burnaby, British Columbia.
- October 2013. “Computer Searches,” Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia, Criminal Law and the Charter, Vancouver, British Columbia. Panelist with Mr. Justice Frankel of the British Columbia Court of Appeal and Greg DelBigio, Q.C.
- February 2013. “Computer Searches,” Continuing Legal Education Society, Vancouver, British Columbia.
- June 2012. “Forfeiture of Offence-Related Property,” Continuing Legal Education Society, Vancouver, British Columbia.
- April 2012. “Interpreting and Applying the Truth in Sentencing Act,” Canadian Bar Association, Vancouver Criminal Justice Subsection, Vancouver, British Columbia.
- January 2012. “Implications of the PHS (Insite) Decision,” Canadian Bar Association, Vancouver, British Columbia.
- December 2011. “Implications of the PHS (lnsite) Decision,” British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, Criminal Law 2011, Vancouver, British Columbia.
- March 2011. “Emerging Litigation Issues in Drug Prosecutions,” PPSC Annual Conference 2011, Calgary, Alberta.
- March 2011. “Offence-Related Property,” PPSC Annual Conference 2011, Calgary, Alberta.
- January 2011, “Selected Search and Seizure Issues Arising in Marihuana Grow Operation Prosecutions,” Osgoode Professional Development Western Symposium on Search and Seizure 2011, Vancouver, British Columbia.
- January 2011, “Exclusion of Evidence under s. 24(2) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia, CDSA 2011, Vancouver, British Columbia.
- December 2010, “Implementational Aspects of the Right to Counsel,” British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, Criminal Law 2010, Vancouver, British Columbia.
- October 2010. “Law Enforcement Justification under s. 25.1 of the Criminal Code and Reverse-Sting Undercover Investigations,” Ministry of the Attorney General of British Columbia Annual Conference 2010, Whistler, British Columbia.
- October 2010. “Standards of Review in Criminal Appeals,” Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia, Appellate Practice 2010, Vancouver, British Columbia.
- June 2010. “Trends in Search and Seizure Law,” Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia, Wiretap Law 2010, Vancouver, British Columbia.
- May 2009. “Motor Vehicle Stops and the Right to be Free from Arbitrary Detention,” Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia, Criminal Law 2009, Vancouver, British Columbia.
- May 2009. “Search Warrants and Principles of Search and Seizure under the Canadian Charter of Rights,” Ministry of the Attorney General of British Columbia Annual Conference, Whistler, British Columbia.
- May 2007. “Forfeiture of Marihuana Grow Houses as Offence-Related Property,” Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia, CDSA 2007, Vancouver, British Columbia.
- May 2005. “Offence-Related Property,” Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia.
- April 2003. “Direct Examination of Witnesses” and “Tendering Exhibits,” Law Society of Nova Scotia Bar Admission Course, Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Community and Civic Activities:
List all organizations of which you are a member and any offices held with dates.
- From February 2016 until present, I have been a volunteer worker at the Salvation Anny Gateway of Hope shelter in Langley, British Columbia. I was also a volunteer with the Salvation Army’s Christmas Kettle Program in 2015.
- From September 2015 until present, I have assisted in fundraising and chaperoning duties for the Walnut Grove Secondary School’s track and field and cross-country running programs.
PART 11 – THE ROLE OF THE JUDICIARY IN CANADA’S LEGAL SYSTEM
The Government of Canada seeks to appoint judges with a deep understanding of the judicial role in Canada. In order to provide a more complete basis for evaluation, candidates are asked to offer their insight into broader issues concerning the judiciary and Canada’s legal system. For each of the following questions, please provide answers of between 750 and 1000 words.
1. What would you regard as your most significant contribution to the law and the pursuit of justice in Canada?
- I believe I have made a positive contribution toward the development of constitutional law in Canada.
- I have made positive contributions toward the development of constitutional rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I have been involved in literally dozens of appellate cases delineating the scope of the rights enshrined in ss. 7, 8, 9, 10(a), 10(b), 11, and 12 of the Charter. In an adversarial system, constitutional rights can only be properly delineated when the relevant interests are fully and forcefully placed before the court or tribunal tasked with recognizing and protecting those rights. Regardless of my personal views with respect to the outcome of any particular case, I have always striven to represent the interests of the Crown and the public in constitutional litigation. My role has largely been to advocate for a balanced approach that takes into account not just the unconstrained interests of individuals, but also the societal interests of public safety, security, and ensuring that all admissible evidence is available in pursuit of the truth-seeking function of the criminal justice system. I have represented the interests of the public by seeking to advance balanced and principled posit ions.
- In the same vein, I have made positive contributions toward the development of federalism in Canada. I have been involved in a number of important division of powers cases, including R. v. Malmo-Levine, 2003 SCC 75 (junior counsel) and Canada (Attorney General) v. PHS Community Services Society, 2011 SCC 44 (lead counsel, along with my Department of Justice colleague Rob Frater). In both cases, the Court was required to address the constitutionality of federal drug laws under s. 91 of the Constitution Act, 1867. And in PHS, the court was also required to address the question of interjurisdictional immunity, in determining whether a law that prohibited access to drugs intruded upon any exclusive jurisdiction of the provincial legislatures to provide for the delivery of healthcare services. In both cases, the court upheld the constitutionality of federal drug laws, thereby giving effect to the ability of the federal legislature to use its criminal law power to create laws protecting the health and safety of all Canadians.
- Finally, I believe that I have made a positive contribution to the law by fulfilling my role in a professional and dignified manner. I have been involved in many court cases involving serious criminal offences and emotionally charged subjects. I have learned to maintain a professional demeanor, respecting the authority of the court, and the dignity of both opposing counsel and the opposing parties. Although the stakes are high for all concerned, and the litigation is often contentious, I have striven to remain courteous, professional, and respectful toward opposing counsel and opposing parties. I believe that opposing counsel respect me for my fairness, courtesy, and professionalism, both inside and outside the courtroom. I also believe that judges before whom I have appeared respect my professional demeanor and fairness inside the courtroom. The litigation process should be vigorous without being discourteous or unpleasant.
2. How has your experience provided you with insight into the variety and diversity of Canadians and their unique perspectives?
- I am cognizant of the need for the judiciary to account for and accommodate diversity within Canadian society. My experience has provided me with insight into the diversity of Canadians and their unique perspectives in the following ways:
- I have had conduct of many criminal proceedings in which parties (including accused persons and witnesses) have been members of visible minority groups. This has given me insight into the perspective of individuals from visible minority groups toward the criminal justice system.
- I have had conduct of immigration prosecutions involving testimony from witnesses who have come to Canada as migrants in human smuggling enterprises. This have given me insight into the plight of individuals who are convinced to come to Canada by irregular means and then find themselves in Canada, in difficult circumstances, often without the necessary support network to obtain a foothold in Canadian society.
- I have had conduct of numerous trials and appeals involving parties or witnesses who do not speak English as a first language, as a result of which I have become familiar with the communication challenges arising in such proceedings.
- I have conducted and provided advice and input to other Crown counsel with respect to sentencing proceedings and sentence appeals involving Aboriginal offenders. Through these experiences I am aware of the need to consider the historical and socioeconomic challenges faced by Aboriginal offenders. I am aware of the concern about over-incarceration of Aboriginal offenders, and I thus appreciate the importance of considering creative sentencing measures for aboriginal offenders.
- I perform volunteer work at a homeless shelter in an ethnically diverse neighborhood. I also provide pro bono legal advice at a community center in an ethnically diverse neighborhood. These activities have provided me with the opportunity to interact with and serve individuals with disadvantaged backgrounds that include substance abuse, socio-economic disadvantage, and mental health challenges.
- I live in a neighborhood that is becoming increasingly ethnically diverse. I see the challenges faced by recent immigrants who have valuable skills but are unable to obtain employment in their chosen field because of an absence of language training, and problems with obtaining accreditation or recognition of their foreign credentials. I have assisted neighbors and others in my community who have recently immigrated to Canada in accessing information about employment, education, and various aspects of the Canadian legal system.
3. Describe the appropriate role of a judge in a constitutional democracy.
- In a constitutional democracy, democratically elected legislatures have the mandate and authority to enact legislation for the benefit of their constituents, but only within the limits set out in the constitution. The role of the judiciary in a constitutional democracy is to uphold and enforce these constitutional limits. In other words, judges are called upon to ensure that legislation and executive actions of the government do not exceed the limits set out in the constitution. Two particular areas in which courts are most commonly required to perform this function are (i) by adjudicating upon the division of legislative powers between the federal and provincial governments (“Division of Powers”), and (ii) by protecting and enforcing individual rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the “Charter”).
The Role of Judges in Adjudicating Upon Division of Legislative Powers
- The Parliament of Canada has the constitutional authority to enact laws with respect to the subject matters set out in s. 91 of the Constitution Act, 1867. The provincial legislatures have the constitutional authority to enact laws under subject matters set out in s. 92 of the Constitution Act, 1867. Sometimes, a legislature may enact a law that the other level of government or even a private litigant contends is not within its area of legislative competence, or which improperly intrudes upon the legislative competence of the other level of government. In such instances, the courts are called upon to determine whether the law is valid under the division of powers set out in ss. 91 and 92. The role of the court in adjudicating upon the division of powers between the two levels of government is an essential aspect or our federal system of government. The rulings of the courts in division of powers cases can have significant implications for the division of responsibility as between the two levels of government.
The Role of Judges in Protecting Individual Rights under the Charter
- In a constitutional democracy, the constitution plays an essential role in protecting the rights of individuals against abuses by the state. The Charter thus guarantees and enshrines individual liberties and freedoms (s. 2), mobility rights (s. 6), legal rights (ss. 7 to 13), equality rights (s. 15), and Aboriginal rights, treaty rights, or other rights accruing to Aboriginal peoples (s. 25). The role of judges is to protect and uphold the rights enshrined in the Charter. This role is most commonly manifested in two different ways.
- First, judges may be called upon to decide whether a particular legislative enactment is consistent with the rights enshrined in the Charter. This is in effect judicial review of legislation under the Charter. Neither Parliament nor the provincial legislatures can enact laws that are inconsistent with the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Charter. Any law that conflicts with the Charter and cannot be demonstrably justified as a reasonable limit under s. 1 is of no force and effect to the extent of the inconsistency under s. 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982. Superior court judges are thus empowered and required to protect the rights enshrined in the Charter by striking down laws that are inconsistent with the Charter.
- Second, judges are frequently called upon to decide whether particular state action infringes or denies the Charter rights of any particular individual. For example, where an accused person charged with a criminal offence alleges that he or she was subjected to an unreasonable search under s. 8 of the Charter, arbitrarily detained or arrested contrary to s. 9 of the Charter, or denied the right to counsel contrary to s. 10(b) of the Charter, the court will be required to determine whether the accused’s rights were infringed, and to impose an appropriate and just remedy for the infringement under s. 24 of the Charter. Where evidence against the accused was “obtained in a manner” that violated the Charter, the court must consider whether admission of the evidence would bring the administration of justice into disrepute under s. 24(2) of the Charter. Superior court judges are thus empowered to protect individuals from state abuse by adjudicating upon and granting remedies for state actions that intrude upon Charter-protected rights.
- In all of the respects described above, the appropriate role of a judge in our constitutional democracy is to protect and uphold the Constitution. This is essential to ensure that governments respect the limits of their authority, and to protect individuals against encroachments upon their fundamental rights and freedoms. To effectively fulfill this role, judges must be courageous and independent. This is one of the key reasons why judicial independence is a fundamental tenet of the Canadian system of government.
4. Who is the audience for decisions rendered by the court(s) to which you are applying?
- In R. v. Sheppard, 2002 SCC 26, the Supreme Court of Canada explained that the requirement to give reasons for judgment is tied to their purpose and varies with the context. The court’s reasons, read together with the record, must be sufficient to explain the basis for the court’s decision in light of what is in issue between the parties.
- Courts are expected and required to render decisions that will resolve the legal dispute between the parties to the proceedings. In this sense, the court’s “audience” is first and foremost the parties themselves. This includes both the individual litigants and their counsel in cases where the litigants are represented. In a broader sense, the court’s “audience” also includes the public at large. Under the open courts principle, courts are accessible to the public, and justice must not only be done, but it must also be seen to be done.
- Delivering reasons that speak to the audience will depend on context. An important contextual factor that is sometimes overlooked is whether the parties are represented by counsel. Courts should always strive to deliver reasons in easily digestible language, but this of particular importance where lay litigants are involved.
- In broad strokes, the Supreme Court of British Columbia is responsible for resolving civil disputes, family law disputes, and serious criminal charges against accused persons. In each of these areas the Court’s audience consists of the individual parties to the proceeding, and the public at large.
The Supreme Court’s “Audience” in Civil Proceedings
- In a civil dispute, one party or both has filed suit seeking redress for a civil wrong. The party seeking redress has a right to determination of his or her claim, and the party responding to the suit has the right to defend the claim. Any decision rendered by the Court must be understandable to the parties, and their counsel in cases where they are represented. The public at large must also see that civil disputes are resolved based on the rule of law, by an orderly and transparent court process, with the judge serving as an impartial and dispassionate decision-maker.
The Supreme Court’s “Audience” in Family Law Proceedings
- In a family dispute, one party or both will generally be seeking dissolution of a marriage or common law relationship. This may entail division of assets, arrangements for spousal maintenance and child support, and determination and assignment of parental responsibilities. Again, the immediate audience for the Court’s decisions will be the parties to the proceedings themselves, including the spouses, their legal representatives, and in some instances their family members. And once again, the broader audience for the Court’s decisions is the public at large. Although in some instances the details or even the full names of the parties may not be published, the public at large must see that family disputes are resolved by way of an orderly and transparent process, with the judge serving as an impartial and dispassionate decision-maker.
The Supreme Court’s “Audience” in Criminal Proceedings
- In a criminal proceeding, the Crown has laid a criminal charge alleging an indictable offence against one or more accused. The Crown, as the representative of the state, is expected to prove the allegation beyond a reasonable doubt, based on admissible evidence in a fair trial. The accused is entitled to know the case against him or her, to test or challenge the Crown’s evidence, to make full answer and defence to the charge, and to the full benefit of the presumption of innocence. In this context, the Court’s immediate audience is once again the parties to the proceeding, namely the Crown as represented by Crown counsel, and the accused and his or her counsel in cases where the accused is represented. The parties are entitled to justice under a fair trial with a judge presiding as an impartial and independent decision maker. And once again, the broader audience for the Court’s decisions is the public at large. The public is entitled to know the basis on which allegations of criminal wrongdoing are adjudicated. This is essential to the rule of law.
- The “audience” for decisions rendered by judges of the Supreme Court of British Columbia will depend on the nature of the proceedings. In each instance, the primary “audience” consists of the parties to the litigation, and the broader “audience” is the public at large.
5. Please describe the personal qualities, professional skills and abilities, and life experience that you believe will equip you for the role of a judge.
- I value courtesy, fairness, and professionalism. I believe that opposing counsel respect me for these qualities, both inside and outside the courtroom. I also believe that judges before whom I have appeared respect my professional demeanor and fairness inside the courtroom. I have been involved in some cases in which the positions taken by the government have been perceived as unpopular. For example, I have dealt with constitutional challenges to (a) mandatory minimum sentencing provisions (R. v. Lloyd, 2016 SCC 13 and R. v. Dickey, 2016 BCCA 177), (b) restrictions on access to supervised injection services (Canada v. PHS, 2011 SCC 44), and (c) restrictions on access to marihuana for medical purposes (R. v. Smith, 2015 SCC 34). In handling these cases, I have done my best to discharge my responsibilities as Crown counsel with integrity and professionalism. I have also had conduct of many cases involving unrepresented litigants and as such I am aware of the need to ensure that unrepresented parties understand the process and are dealt with fairly by opposing counsel.
- I strive to be both open-minded and decisive. As a Crown counsel, I must make fair, open-minded, objective decisions regarding the conduct of criminal proceedings. These decisions can significantly affect the lives of those involved in the proceedings. During a decade of practice as a trial prosecutor, I was often required to make decisions or recommendations on issues such as charge approval, plea discussions, and sentencing recommendations. In cases where l have decided not to approve charges, or to stay outstanding charges, I had to communicate the decision to others involved in the legal process, including investigators or representatives of interested law enforcement agencies. Plea discussions and sentencing recommendations also require a careful balance of public interest factors including the seriousness of the offence and the offender’s culpability, personal circumstances, and rehabilitative prospects. In ten years as appellate counsel, I have been called upon often to make recommendations concerning whether to appeal adverse rulings. This requires a careful assessment of the soundness of the ruling, the public importance of the case, the litigation risks involved in an appeal, and the broader impact of the ruling. Finally, in my current position as Senior General Counsel, I am called upon on a daily basis to provide legal, ethical, and practical guidance to other Crown counsel at the Public Prosecution Service of Canada concerning issues arising in their prosecutions.
- I take pride in hard work and dedication to my profession. Having conducted an average of 23 appeals in each of the past six years, and having drafted approximately 175 written arguments in criminal appeals, I have learned to prioritize work commitments while still producing high quality work. Many of the cases I have worked on involved novel legal issues in emerging areas of the law, requiring extensive legal research and consultation with other Crown agencies and departments. I have also taken part in many continuing legal education programs for colleagues within the PPSC and in the criminal law bar.
Professional Skills and Abilities and Life Experience
- Substantive Legal Knowledge. I have ten years of experience as a trial prosecutor, with conduct of hundreds of criminal trials, leading to in-depth knowledge of criminal procedure, substantive criminal law, rules of evidence, and litigation under the Canadian Charter of Rights. I also have extensive knowledge of appellate practice, having conducted over 175 criminal appeals in the course of my career.
- Analytical Skills. Although practicing criminal law exclusively, I have also been required to study, understand, and litigate discrete issues of constitutional law (in relation to both division of powers and the Charter of Rights), immigration, taxation, fisheries, customs and excise, environmental law. I have been required to develop a working knowledge of many federal statutes in the course of my duties. This experience has furnished me with the analytical tools necessary to understand and apply the provisions of a particular statute to a particular set of circumstances, even in areas of law in which I have not had extensive prior experience.
- Communication Skills. I have developed my oral communication skills through 20 years of experience as a trial and appellate counsel. I have learned to address a particular subject matter in a manner that suits the knowledge base of the audience, including judges, other lawyers, enforcement officials, and other stakeholders in the justice system. I have honed my written communication skills through drafting literally hundreds of written arguments, many involving complex issues that required consultation and input from Crown agencies and government departments. For the past three years I have been a faculty member of the PPSC’s annual written advocacy program in Ottawa. I have also had conduct of numerous trials and appeals involving parties or witnesses who do not speak English as a first language, as a result of which I have become familiar with the communication challenges arising in such proceedings.
- Confidence, Composure, and Understanding of Proper Courtroom Decorum. I have been involved in many court cases involving serious criminal offences and emotionally charged subjects. I have learned to maintain a professional demeanor, respecting the authority of the court, and the dignity of opposing counsel and the opposing parties. I believe this would serve me well in maintaining order and respect in the courtroom as a judge.
- Experience in Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation, Early Resolution. I am aware of the importance of avoiding unnecessary and intractable litigation. I have recommended or approved diversion of criminal cases in appropriate circumstances. I have also resolved many criminal prosecutions through plea arrangements, often after lengthy discussions with opposing counsel and extensive consultation with other justice stakeholders. I believe these experiences will assist me in encouraging parties to reach early resolution of cases and in focusing trial proceedings on truly contentious issues.
- Compassion and Empathy. I have considerable experience with individuals who have come contact with the criminal justice system, as accused persons, witnesses, victims or complainants. I fully appreciate that the decisions made by judges have significant and lasting impact on those involved. I have also served the community as a volunteer in a homeless shelter, and I have worked in a pro bono community legal clinic. These experiences have helped me to recognize the challenges faced by individuals who may come into conflict with the criminal justice system due to drug addiction, mental illness, and socioeconomic disadvantage.
6. Given the goal of ensuring that Canadians are able to look at the justices appointed to the bench and see their faces and life experience reflected there, you may, if you choose, provide information about yourself that you feel would assist in this objective.
- If appointed as a judge, I would take my heritage, values, and life experiences to the bench with me, as all judges do. I would also respect the differing backgrounds, beliefs, and traditions of all others in Canadian society. I would do my best to treat all individuals who appear before me with dignity and respect. Those who know me and have worked with me (and opposite me in litigation) can attest to how I have put these qualities and values into action throughout my 20 years of practice.
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