Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada announces judicial appointments in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador
October 11, 2022 – 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.
Melanie Del Rizzo, K.C., Partner at Smyth Woodland Del Rizzo Barrett , is appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, General Division, Judicial Centre of Grand Falls-Windsor. Justice Del Rizzo replaces Justice T.L. Button , who has been transferred by the Chief Justice to the Family Division Judicial Centre of St. John’s to fill one of three positions allocated further to the Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No.1, expanding the Family Division of the Court.
Thomas J. Johnson, K.C., Lawyer at O’Dea Earle in St. John’s, is appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador. Justice Johnson replaces Justice R. McGrath (St. John's), who was appointed Associate Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador on May 27, 2022. Due to internal Court transfers, the vacancy is located in Corner Brook.
“I wish Justices Del Rizzo and Johnson 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 Melanie Del Rizzo, K.C., was born and raised in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. She graduated with a B.Sc. (Hons) from Memorial University of Newfoundland, obtained her LL.B. from McGill University in 1994, was called to the Newfoundland and Labrador Bar in 1995, and obtained certification in alternative dispute resolution in 2012.
Justice Del Rizzo has practiced in small firms throughout her career, and for the last 24 years with the St. John’s law firm now known as Smyth Woodland Del Rizzo Barrett. She served on the Canadian Bar Association National Board of Directors and is a past chair of the Canadian Bar Association National Family Section, and was a recipient of the Newfoundland and Labrador Law Society’s Gordon M. Stirling Distinguished Service Award. She has been a regular presenter at the Bar Admission Course, and has participated in various continuing legal education and public legal education sessions, both locally and nationally, and has served as mentor to many young lawyers throughout her career. She was appointed King’s Counsel in 2019.
Justice Del Rizzo has served on various volunteer boards, including 9 years on School Councils at her children’s schools, as well as 12 years on the City of St. John’s Heritage Committee. She has spent a good part of her life (34 seasons and counting) playing with the Gower Youth Band and Gower Community Band programs.
Justice Del Rizzo is married to John Del Rizzo and is mom to Amelia and Gabe.
Justice Thomas J. Johnson, K.C., graduated from Memorial University with a B.A. in 1991, and from the University of New Brunswick Law School with an LL.B with Distinction in 1994. When he graduated from law school, he was awarded the Lieutenant Governor's Medal for highest academic standing.
Justice Johnson articled with O’Dea, Earle and remained with the firm for his entire career since his call to the Bar of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1995. His practice focused primarily on civil litigation. He has extensive experience in administrative law, labour law, employment law, professional liability insurance, and public utilities
regulation. He has represented clients in matters before boards, tribunals, the Provincial Court, Supreme Court and Court of Appeal of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Tax Court of Canada, the Federal Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court of Canada. He served as counsel to the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Insurance Program since 2012. He was appointed King’s Counsel in 2014.
Justice Johnson has been involved in the community throughout his career, most recently as a Director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Construction Safety Association and a Member of the Elks Club in St. John’s. He also served on the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Insurance Committee for the past 10 years.
Justice Johnson and his wife, Lisa, have two adult sons, Alex and Nathaniel.
At the Superior Court level, more than 560 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, 2SLGBTQI+, 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.
The Government of Canada is committed to promoting a justice system in which sexual assault matters are decided fairly, without the influence of myths and stereotypes, and in which survivors are treated with dignity and compassion. Changes to the Judges Act and Criminal Code that came into force on May 6, 2021, mean that in order to be eligible for appointment to a provincial superior court, candidates must agree to participate in continuing education on matters related to sexual assault law and social context, which includes systemic racism and systemic discrimination. The new legislation enhances the transparency of decisions by amending the Criminal Code to require that judges provide written reasons, or enter them into the record, when deciding sexual assault matters.
For more information, media may contact:
Office of the Minister of Justice
Department of Justice Canada
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