Government of Canada announces judicial appointments in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador

News release

March 26, 2019 – Ottawa, Ontario – Department of Justice Canada  

The Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, today announced the following appointment under the new judicial application process introduced on October 20, 2016. The new process emphasizes transparency, merit, and diversity, and will continue to ensure the appointment of jurists who meet the highest standards of excellence and integrity.

Michelle A. Coady, Counsel at the Newfoundland and Labrador Legal Aid Commission in St. John’s, is appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, and a Judge ex officio of the Court of Appeal of Newfoundland and Labrador. She replaces Justice W.H. Goodridge (St. John’s), who was appointed to the Court of Appeal on October 17, 2018.

Katherine O’Brien, Partner at O’Brien Law Group in St. John’s, is appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, and a Judge ex officio of the Court of Appeal of Newfoundland and Labrador. She replaces Justice S. Chaytor (Grand Bank) who has been transferred by the Chief Justice to replace Justice E.A. Faour (St. John’s). Justice E.A. Faour elected to become a supernumerary judge effective November 5, 2018. The vacancy is therefore located in Grand Bank.


Born and raised in St. John's, Justice Coady’s first formal education was in nursing. Initially, she attended St. Clare's School of Nursing and graduated in 1992. Shortly after, she successfully completed the registered nursing exams and secured employment with her Alma Mater. While nursing part time, she furthered her education at the Memorial University of Newfoundland School of Nursing, where she received her Bachelor of Nursing in 1995.

Later that same year, her thirst for knowledge not yet quenched but experiencing a desire to try something new, she turned her mind to law. Justice Coady became a student at Dalhousie in the fall of 1995 and was awarded her Bachelor of Laws in 1998. She completed articles at O'Dea, Earle Law Offices in St. John's and following her call to the bar, remained at that firm as an associate where she enjoyed a rewarding general practice. In 2007, Justice Coady joined The Newfoundland and Labrador Legal Aid Commission as a staff solicitor. 

During her time with the Commission, Justice Coady practiced primarily in the areas of family and criminal law. She was the first defense counsel in the Family Violence Intervention Court and recently completed three years as duty counsel at the Supreme Court Family Division in St. John's. Most recently, Justice Coady held the position of Deputy Area Director with the St. John's Office of the Legal Aid Commission. 

Justice O’Brien was born and raised in St John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. Following the completion of a B.Eng in electrical engineering at Memorial University in 1996, she began working on a law degree at the University of British Columbia. After having two children, Bridget and Henry, during the course of her law studies, Justice O’Brien graduated with an LLB from the University of British Columbia in 2002, though she completed her final year as a transfer student at the University of Toronto. 

Justice O’Brien articled at Smart & Biggar in Toronto, specializing in intellectual property.  Among numerous scholarships and academic awards she received in engineering and law, Justice O’Brien was awarded the 2003 Treasurer’s Medal by the Law Society of Upper Canada.

She returned to St John’s with her children and husband, Doug, in 2003 to work with her father, Gerald O’Brien, Q.C., at his firm O’Brien and Associates. It was a successful collaboration that carried on for almost 16 years, and would lead to the firm becoming the O’Brien Law Group. Justice O’Brien has served a wide range of clients in her career, particularly within the local business community. Aside from her regular practice, her varied roles have included teaching for the Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Newfoundland and Labrador and serving as counsel for a public commission and co-counsel for two public inquiries. 

Outside of legal work, she has dedicated her considerable energy as a volunteer and board member in a number of non-profit organizations, including as chair of the East Coast Trail Association and most recently as chair of Stella’s Circle Foundation.

Quick facts

  • Since 2016, the Government of Canada has made over 250 judicial appointments.

  • Canada’s judiciary is internationally renowned and respected for its independence and diversity. In October 2016, the government introduced important reforms to the appointments process, aimed at strengthening the selection process. Of the individuals appointed under the new process, over half are women, eight are Indigenous, 20 identify as visible minorities, 13 identify as LGBTQ2, and three identify as persons with disabilities.

  • The Government of Canada is committed to promoting access to justice for all Canadians. To improve outcomes for Canadian families, Budget 2018 will provide funding of $77.2 million over four years to support the expansion of unified family courts, beginning in 2019-2020. This investment in the family justice system will create 39 new judicial positions in Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

  • In addition, Budget 2018 provided funding for a further seven judicial positions in Saskatchewan and Ontario, at a cost of $17.1 million over five years.

  • The funding outlined in Budget 2018 comes on top of resources allocated under Budget 2017, which created 28 new judicial positions across the country.

  • In addition, the Government will invest $6 million over two years, beginning in 2018-2019, to support the judicial discipline process through which allegations of judicial misconduct are investigated. In this way, the Government will ensure that a robust process remains in place to allow Canadians to voice their concerns and submit complaints about judicial conduct to the Canadian Judicial Council and the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs.

  • Federal judicial appointments are made by the Governor General, acting on the advice of the federal Cabinet and recommendations from the Minister of Justice.

  • The Judicial Advisory Committees across Canada play a key role in evaluating judicial applications. There are 17 Judicial Advisory Committees, with each province and territory represented.

  • Significant reforms to the role and structure of the Judicial Advisory Committees, aimed at enhancing the independence and transparency of the process, were announced on October 20, 2016. Sixteen Judicial Advisory Committees have been reconstituted to date.


For more information, media may contact:

Célia Canon
Communications Advisor
Office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Media Relations
Department of Justice Canada

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