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Two judges appointed to N.L. Supreme Court

Monday, May 15, 2017 @ 10:32 AM | By John Chunn

Federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould on Friday announced the appointments of two judges to the Trial Division of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Sandra R. Chaytor, a partner with Cox & Palmer, is appointed a judge of the Supreme Court in Grand Bank, N.L. She replaces Justice G.A. Handrigan, who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective April 8, 2017.

Frances J. Knickle, acting director of Public Prosecutions with the N.L. Department of Justice and Public Safety, is appointed a judge of the Supreme Court in Happy Valley Goose Bay, N.L. She replaces Justice C.R. Thompson, who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective Dec. 4, 2016. Due to an internal transfer by the chief justice, the vacancy is in Happy Valley Goose Bay.

Chaytor was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland (B.A., 1985) and Osgoode Hall Law School (LL.B., 1988). Called to the bar in 1989, she has over 25 years’ experience practising litigation at Cox & Palmer, and has served as deputy managing partner of the firm’s St. John’s office.

She was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2007 and was named a master and taxing officer of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2010.

Justice Chaytor was twice selected to serve as co-counsel to public inquiries in the province: the Commission of Inquiry on Hormone Receptor Testing, which investigated errors in breast cancer testing; and more recently the Inquiry Respecting the Death of Donald Dunphy.

Born into a fishing family in Lunenburg, N.S., Justice Knickle studied music and theatre before pursuing a career in law. She earned her bachelor's in music from Acadia University. Soon afterward, professional roles in both stage and feature film brought her to Newfoundland and Labrador and led to a lifelong love affair with the province and its culture.

After receiving her law degree from Dalhousie University, she articled with the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Justice. She has worked with the Public Prosecution Division since being called to bar of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1992.

After many years as a front-line trial Crown, Justice Knickle developed a specialty in appellate advocacy, including several appearances before the Supreme Court of Canada. In 2013, she earned her Queen’s Counsel designation.