Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada announces judicial appointments in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador
March 24, 2021 – Ottawa, Ontario – Department of Justice Canada
The Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, today announced the following appointments under the judicial application process established in 2016. This process emphasizes transparency, merit, and the diversity of the Canadian population, and will continue to ensure the appointment of jurists who meet the highest standards of excellence and integrity.
Peter N. Browne, Q.C., a partner at Curtis Dawe Lawyers in St. John’s, is appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador. Mr. Justice Browne replaces Mr. Justice B.F. Furey (Corner Brook), who resigned effective August 31, 2019.
Irene S. Muzychka, Q.C., a partner at Curtis Dawe Lawyers in St. John’s, is appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador. Madam Justice Muzychka replaces Mr. Justice D.F. Hurley (St. John’s), who passed away on July 15, 2020.
Trudy L. Button, Legal Counsel at the College of Registered Nurses of Newfoundland and Labrador in St. John’s, is appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador. Madam Justice Button replaces Madam Justice K.J. Goulding (Grand Falls-Windsor), who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective November 13, 2019.
Stacy C. Ryan, Staff Solicitor of the Newfoundland and Labrador Legal Aid Commission in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, is appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador. Madam Justice Ryan replaces Madam Justice G.D. Butler (St. John’s), who was elevated to the Court of Appeal effective May 21, 2019. The Chief Justice has transferred Madam Justice F. Knickle (Happy Valley-Goose Bay) into this vacancy. The vacancy is therefore located in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
“I wish Justices Browne, Muzychka, Button and Ryan every success as they take on their new roles. I am confident they will serve the people of Newfoundland and Labrador well as members of the Supreme Court.”
—The Hon. David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Justice Peter N. Browne, Q.C., received his Bachelor of Laws from Dalhousie University in 1984 and was admitted to the Bar of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1985. He was appointed Queens Counsel in 2008 and was inducted as a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers in 2018.
Mr. Justice Browne has been practising with the law firm Curtis Dawe in the City of St. John’s since 1986. He has offered a broad range of legal services with a primary focus on complex civil litigation, including in the areas of medical malpractice defence, administrative/human rights issues and corporate/commercial matters.
Outside his legal practice, Justice Browne has presented numerous seminars and lectures in the area of health law. He has served on provincial and national committees for the Canadian Bar Association, including as branch president for Newfoundland and Labrador in 2001-02. His community involvement includes participation as a leader for a local Scouts Canada group and several community non-profit organizations, including the Board of Directors for Festival 500 and the Newman Sound Men’s Choir.
Justice Browne is an avid runner who has competed in track and field and road racing provincially and nationally for over 40 years. In recent years, he has served as President for Athletics Northeast, the province’s largest running club. He enjoys spending time with his wife, Barb, their three children, and their dog hiking the trails of the Avalon.
Justice Irene S. Muzychka, Q.C., was born and raised in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. She is one of four children of Ukrainian-Spanish parents who ”came from away” in 1960.
Madam Justice Muzychka holds a B. Comm. (Hons) from Memorial University of Newfoundland and an LL.B. from the University of New Brunswick. She received her articles under the late Hon. Fabian O’Dea, Q.C., and was admitted to the practice of law in 1988. At the time of her appointment, she was managing partner at Curtis Dawe, where she had practised law as litigation counsel for 33 years, appearing regularly in the province’s Supreme Court and Court of Appeal. She received her Queen’s Counsel designation in 2013 and has been selected by her peers for inclusion in Best Lawyers in Canada for her work in the areas of Medical Negligence, Professional Malpractice Law, Insurance Law, and Municipal Law. In 2019-20, she was co-counsel to the Commission of Inquiry respecting the Muskrat Falls Project.
Justice Muzychka was a bencher of the Law Society for eight years and its president in 2009-2010. She was a member of the Judicial Council of the Provincial Court and the Legal Appointments Board, and a presenter in the Civil Litigation Section of the Bar Admission Course and for seminars on Health and Insurance Law. She was also a long-standing director and past chair of the Rising Tide Theatre Association, a well-known Newfoundland and Labrador theatrical group.
Justice Muzychka and her husband, Gregory Smith, Q.C., reside in St. John’s and are the proud parents of two grown children, Andrew and Stefanie.
Justice Trudy L. Button was born and raised in Central Newfoundland as one of three daughters and the first generation of her family to attend university. Taking inspiration from her paternal grandmother, a notably well-read woman, she received a Bachelor of Social Work from Memorial University of Newfoundland in 1983 and a Bachelor of Laws from Dalhousie University in 1993.
As a social worker, Madam Justice Button gained insight into the challenging needs of vulnerable groups, an experience that will serve her well as a member of the judiciary.
After a lengthy career in private practice with Ottenheimer Baker and then McInnes Cooper, practising in the areas of professional regulation, administrative law, personal injury, and family law, she transitioned from private practice to legal counsel for the College of Registered Nurses of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Justice Button’s contributions to the legal profession include service as an instructor with Memorial University’s Faculty of Business Administration teaching Business Law; a member of the Disciplinary Panel of the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador; an instructor for the Law Society’s Bar Admission Course; and a member of the Selection Committee for the Law Foundation Legal Research Awards. In other community activities, she served as a board member of the Victorian Order of Nurses, the Health Ethics Research Board, and the Health Ethics Research Board Appeal Panel.
Throughout her legal career, Justice Button has received the unwavering support of her husband, Morgan, and her son, Michael.
Justice Stacy C. Ryan, was born and raised in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador. She graduated from Memorial University of Newfoundland in 1995 with a Bachelor of Arts and from the University of New Brunswick in 1999 with a Bachelor of Laws. She was called to the Bar in Newfoundland and Labrador in 2000, and was appointed Master of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2015.
For the majority of her 20-year career, Madam Justice Ryan has practised criminal and family law in Labrador with Legal Aid NL.
Justice Ryan has enjoyed serving her community for many years as a volunteer through her roles as a member of the Board of Governors with the College of the North Atlantic, as coordinator of the Jack Rabbit Cross Country Ski Program in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, and in various other sports-related activities. Most recently, she was appointed a trustee of the Board of Trustees for the Labrador Grenfell Health Regional Authority, a member of the Board of Directors of the Mokami Status of Women Council, and a member of the Labrador Regional Appeals Board.
Justice Ryan is a Nunatsiavut beneficiary and the proud mom of two children.
At the Superior Court level, more than 440 judges have been appointed since November 2015. These exceptional jurists represent the diversity that strengthens Canada. Of these judges, more than half are women, and appointments reflect an increased representation of visible minorities, Indigenous, LGBTQ2+, and those who self-identify as having a disability.
The Government of Canada is committed to promoting access to justice for all Canadians. To improve outcomes for Canadian families, Budget 2018 provides 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.
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.
For more information, media may contact:
Office of the Minister of Justice
Department of Justice Canada
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