Many people ask me: Brian, when are you going to become a Judge, and if you become a Judge, please tell me how do you go about it? Is there a big election to become a judge like in the United States? Do you have to be super smart like your brother-in-law Ben Hackett? Do you have to be super good looking like your friend Rick?
Great questions. All of them.
First, I have no intention of becoming a Judge. The Honourable Justice Goldfinger might have a great ring to it; but isn't my cup of tea. My position may change over the years, but for now, I'm plenty happy representing Ontario's accident victims and fighting the good fight against insurance companies who do wrong. My good friend and colleague, Bryan Fromstein on the other hand....now there's a candidate!
First, there's a BIG BIG difference between being a Judge of the Ontario Superior Court/Ontario Court of Justice and being a Justice of the Peace. It doesn't take much to become a Justice of the Peace. Probably the most important thing to becoming a Justice of the Peace is having a good record and being politically connected to the right people. Justices of the Peace come from all sorts of diverse backgrounds. Some are lawyers, others aren't. So, if you want to become a Justice of the Peace, all I can tell you is to get politically active and involved in your community, and who knows, one day YOU could be wearing the Green Sache! Here's a list of recent Justice of the Peace appointments in Ontario http://news.ontario.ca/mag/en/2011/05/eight-new-justices-of-the-peace-appointed.html
But what does it take to be a Judge. You know; a real Judge. The kind who hears trials, puts people behind bars, makes the tough decisions that make the newspapers. Well, here are your answers.
The minimum requirement to APPLY to be a Judge in the Ontario is ten years completed membership as a lawyer at the Bar of one of the Provinces or Territories of Canada. What does that mean? You need to be a lawyer in good standing with a provincial or territorial bar association for at least 10 years. If you aren't a lawyer, then sorry, you can't be a judge.
Let's say you pass the first criteria, then it's off to the application process and the paperwork which comes with it. You need to submit 14 COPIES (yes 14 COPIES) of your Judicial Candidate Application Form to the Judges Appointment Advisory Committee. Here's a link to what the form looks like http://www.ontariocourts.on.ca/jaac/en/forms/
These applications are reviewed by the Judges Appointment Advisory Committee and a short list is prepared. The Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee meets to select candidates for interviews from the short list.
After reference checks, confidential inquiries and interviews, the Committee sends a ranked list of its recommendations to the Attorney General who is required to make the appointment from that list (again, being politically connected is a good thing), because it's ultimately the Attorney General's decision.
COMPOSITION OF THE COMMITTEE
The Legislation requires the composition of the Committee to reflect the diversity of Ontario's population, including gender, geography, racial and cultural minorities. In addition to seven (7) lay members who are appointed by the Attorney General, two (2) judges are appointed by the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice, one (1) member is appointed by the Ontario Judicial Council and three (3) from the legal community are appointed by The Law Society of Upper Canada, Ontario Bar Association and the County and District Law Presidents' Association, respectively. All members serve for a term of three (3) years and may be re-appointed.
So there you have it. In short, that's the application process to become a Judge in Ontario. Judicial vacancies are adverstised in the Ontario Reports which is a publication printed by the Law Society of Upper Canada. Or you can visit the Ontario Court of Justice's website and click on the Judicial Vacancies Tab to find out if there are any openings http://www.ontariocourts.on.ca/jaac/en/vacancy/
I hope you found this quick article somewhat useful or insightful. Who knows, one day you could be the one banging the gavel!