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Wood appointed new chief justice for Nova Scotia

Wednesday, April 17, 2019 @ 1:27 PM | By John Chunn

Michael J. Wood is the new chief justice of Nova Scotia's Court of Appeal and the 23rd chief justice of Nova Scotia.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the appointment in a news release April 17.

 A judge of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia since 2011, Chief Justice Wood takes over from J. Michael MacDonald, who retired from the bench on Jan. 31. Chief Justice Wood will be officially sworn in at a robing ceremony in the coming weeks, according to a press release from the Courts of Nova Scotia.

“We are delighted to have one of the very best judges in this province now leading the Nova Scotia Judiciary,” said Joseph Kennedy, chief justice of the Supreme Court. “I want to congratulate Chief Justice Wood and wish him all the best in this new role.”

As Nova Scotia’s highest judge, the chief justice serves as the province’s administrator, stepping in when the Lieutenant Governor is absent. The chief justice also chairs the Nova Scotia Judicial Council, the Executive Office of the Nova Scotia Judiciary and the Nova Scotia Council of Chiefs, in addition to administering the business of the Court of Appeal and presiding over appeal hearings.

Chief Justice Wood was born in Portsmouth, England, while his father was on exchange with the Royal Navy. He studied chemistry at Acadia University and graduated with a bachelor of laws degree from Dalhousie University in 1982. He was admitted to the Nova Scotia bar that same year.

Prior to his appointment, Chief Justice Wood practised law with Burchells LLP in the areas of civil litigation and administrative law. He was an active member in the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society, particularly in relation to professional responsibility and competency.

As a judge, Chief Justice Wood was active in the administration of the Supreme Court through his involvement in many committees, including those related to the Civil Procedure Rules, court clerkship and insolvency. He has led initiatives that help newly appointed judges successfully transition into their new roles on the bench.

Chief Justice Wood has also served as a mentor for African Nova Scotian and Indigenous lawyers interested in applying to become a judge, an initiative launched by his predecessor, Chief Justice MacDonald, in partnership with the Indigenous Blacks & Mi’kmaq Initiative at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie.

Chief Justice Wood was active in legal education, including as a member of the board of directors of the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice and has lectured for many years at the Schulich School of Law.

With this appointment, there are now seven full-time and five supernumerary judges sitting on the Court of Appeal, with one vacancy remaining from when Justice Joel Fichaud elected supernumerary status on Nov. 1, 2018.