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Ottawa appoints four judges to N.L. Supreme Court

Wednesday, March 24, 2021 @ 3:04 PM | By John Chunn


The federal Department of Justice (DOJ) on March 24 announced it had filled four judicial vacancies on the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador. 

Justice Minister David Lametti had told The Lawyers Daily last December that the vacancies would be “treated as a priority.

Peter N. Browne, a partner at Curtis Dawe Lawyers in St. John’s, is appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador. Justice Browne replaces Justice Brian F. Furey (Corner Brook), who resigned effective Aug. 31, 2019.

Irene S. Muzychka, a partner at Curtis Dawe Lawyers in St. John’s, is appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador. Justice Muzychka replaces Justice David 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. Justice Button replaces Justice Kendra J. Goulding (Grand Falls-Windsor), who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective Nov. 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. Justice Ryan replaces Justice Gillian D. Butler (St. John’s), who was elevated to the Court of Appeal effective May 21, 2019. The chief justice has transferred Justice Frances Knickle (Happy Valley-Goose Bay) into this vacancy. The vacancy is therefore located in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

According to the DOJ press release, Justice Browne 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 Queen’s Counsel in 2008 and was inducted as a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers in 2018.

Justice Browne has been practising with the law firm Curtis Dawe in 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.

Justice Muzychka was born and raised in St. John’s. She is one of four children of Ukrainian-Spanish parents who “came from away” in 1960.

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 justice Fabian O’Dea 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. 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 Button was born and raised in Central Newfoundland as one of three daughters and the first generation of her family to attend university. She received a bachelor of social work from Memorial University of Newfoundland in 1983 and a bachelor of laws from Dalhousie University in 1993.

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 Ryan, was born and raised in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador. She graduated from Memorial University of Newfoundland in 1995 with a BA 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, 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 co-ordinator of the Jack Rabbit Cross Country Ski Program in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, and in various other sports-related activities.