New judges appointed to the Provincial Court
April 14, 2011
Edmonton… Five new judges have been appointed to the Provincial Court of Alberta.
Margaret Joanne Durant, has been appointed to Calgary Provincial Court, Criminal Division, effective May 9; Donald Blaine Higa, Q.C., to Calgary Civil, effective April 26; Eric Dean Brooks to the Medicine Hat Provincial Court, effective April 26; Susan Elaine Richardson to Edmonton Criminal, effective April 15; and John Peter Higgerty, Q.C., to Edmonton Region Provincial Court, effective May 16.”These appointees have demonstrated a longstanding commitment to professional development, education and leadership,” said Verlyn Olson, Minister of Justice and Attorney General. “I am pleased to have them join the Provincial Court as we work together to ensure Alberta has the most accessible justice system in Canada and that our communities are among the safest in the world.”
The Alberta Judicial Council screens all candidates for Provincial Court appointments and forwards a list of recommended applicants to the Provincial Court Nominating Committee. The committee then interviews candidates from the list and recommends the names of those appointees felt to be of the highest calibre to the Minister of Justice.
The Provincial Court Nominating Committee was established in 1999. The 11 members are appointed by the Minister of Justice and represent the Alberta Provincial Court, the Law Society of Alberta, the Canadian Bar Association (Alberta Branch), other members from the legal profession, and the public. The Judicial Council has representatives from the Alberta Provincial Court, Court of Queen’s Bench, Court of Appeal and the Law Society of Alberta. It also includes two people appointed by the Minister of Justice.
Backgrounder: New judges’ biographies
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April 14, 2011
New judges’ biographies
Eric Brooks graduated from the University of Alberta in 1986. After graduation, he worked in the areas of family and criminal law with Zutter and Bent and later as a sole practitioner. From 1996 to 1998 Brooks worked with the Legal Aid Youth Office doing youth criminal defence work. In 1998 he became a Crown prosecutor based in Lethbridge, a position he held until his appointment to the provincial court. For the last 11 years he has been a sessional lecturer at Athabasca University, teaching civil liberties, administrative law and the Canadian legal system. Brooks is actively involved in his community and is currently the vice-chair of the Carriage House Theatre board of directors, and president of the Blue and White Alumni Association.
Joanne Durant was admitted to the Bar of Ontario in 1991 following graduation from Osgoode Hall Law School at York University. She began her legal career as a defence counsel in Toronto for Legal Aid. She later served in the Crown Prosecutor’s Office in Etobicoke, Ontario, as well as the Guelph Crown Prosecutor’s Office. She relocated to Calgary in 1996. In 1997 she became a sessional instructor at Mount Royal College and the University of Lethbridge, where she taught predominantly criminal law, as well as evidence and criminal procedure courses. She also taught full-time for one year in the Justice Studies Program at Mount Royal College. Durant has served with the Crown Prosecutor’s Office in Calgary since 2002, becoming an Assistant Chief Crown Prosecutor in 2007, a position she held until her appointment. Durant also taught courses for the Calgary Police Service, the RCMP, the University of Calgary and the Legal Education Society of Alberta.
Donald Higa, Q.C.
Donald Higa graduated from Queen’s University in 1983 and was admitted to the Law Society of Alberta the following year and to the Law Society of Upper Canada in 2004. Higa practiced corporate litigation and insolvency law as an associate lawyer at Beaumont Church LLP, and Burnet, Duckworth and Palmer. From 1992 to 1999 he was partner and co-managing partner at Evans Higa Burgess LLP. In 2000 Higa became a consulting lawyer to Thackray Burgess, focusing on corporate litigation and insolvency. Most recently he worked as director of professional development and risk management at Macleod Dixon LLP. He has served in numerous capacities within the Canadian Bar Association, including as president of the Alberta Branch from 2003 to 2004.
John Higgerty, Q.C.
John Higgerty graduated from McGill University in 1980. From his time of graduation Higgerty practiced general law, concentrating on criminal and matrimonial litigation. His areas of specialization are family violence and Aboriginal justice initiatives. He has conducted trials in French and English as an exchange prosecutor in Montreal and Alberta. In 1985 Higgerty became the Chief Crown Prosecutor for the Hinton district. He has extensive trial experience and has provided legal advice to law enforcement agencies, case analysis and witness preparation. For the past five years Higgerty has been an elected Bencher of the Alberta Law Society and he has been a board member of the Hinton Native Friendship Centre Society for 10 years.
Susan Richardson graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1990. She began her legal practice as a prosecutor in the Edmonton General Prosecutions Office where she conducted trials at Youth Court, Provincial Court and Court of Queen’s Bench. She worked with the Edmonton Police Service, providing advice on the suitability of charges and ongoing investigations. After a year as a solicitor at the Alberta Treasury Branches in Edmonton, Richardson returned to the Edmonton General Prosecutions Office. Richardson has also worked with the Federal Prosecution Service, where she expanded her legal experience to include litigation in drug trafficking and organized crime. Most recently she worked with the newly-created Edmonton Rural and Regional Response Office with Alberta Justice, prosecuting criminal and youth matters in rural jurisdictions. Throughout her legal career Richardson has worked closely with vulnerable populations, including immigrants, seniors and adults with mental illness.