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Ottawa appoints four judges to Ontario courts

Thursday, July 20, 2017 @ 2:09 PM | By John Chunn


Federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould announced the appointment of four judges to the Ontario courts on July 18.

J. Michal Fairburn, a judge of the Ontario Superior Court, is appointed a judge of the Court of Appeal for Ontario. For over two decades, Justice Fairburn worked as Crown counsel and then general counsel within the Ministry of the Attorney General for Ontario. She appeared in every level of court, including arguing over 25 appeals in the Supreme Court of Canada and many more in the Court of Appeal for Ontario. Several of the appeals involved the most pressing and complex criminal and constitutional issues of the day. Her appellate work complemented her experience as a trial litigator. In 2013, she became a partner at Stockwoods LLP, where her practice expanded to include civil litigation as well as regulatory work. She replaces Justice Eleanore Cronk, who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective Sept. 12, 2016.

Heather McArthur, a judge of the Ontario Court of Justice, is appointed a judge of the Superior Court of Justice in Toronto. Justice McArthur graduated from the University of Toronto law school in 1992 and was called to the bar in 1994. She practised criminal defence law for almost 18 years prior to her appointment to the Ontario Court of Justice in 2011. Before joining the bench, she successfully defended cases at all levels of court, including the Ontario Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada. Her practice was primarily focused on large and complex homicide trials and appeals. Since her appointment to the Ontario Court of Justice she has presided over countless trials, guilty pleas and pretrials, and frequently presides in Gladue court. She replaces Justice E. E. Frank who resigned effective July 4, 2017.

Andrew A. Sanfilippo is appointed a judge of the Superior Court of Justice in Toronto. Justice Sanfilippo practised defence civil litigation for 33 years, the last 23 years as a founding partner of the Toronto law firm O’Donnell, Robertson & Sanfilippo LLP. He acted extensively in the defence of professionals, including hundreds of Ontario lawyers implicated in cases of professional negligence and acted as defence counsel in complex litigation in the areas of products liability, mass tort and personal injury. He acted as coverage or advisory counsel to many of Ontario’s insurance companies and has for decades been consulted on high-profile insurance matters across Canada and the United States. He has acted extensively as mediation counsel and is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. He has been a frequent author and panellist in a wide spectrum of legal areas. He replaces Justice J. Wilton-Siegel, who elected to become a supernumerary judge, effective June 27, 2017.

Jocelyn Speyer, chief counsel in the Crown Law Office-Criminal for the Ministry of the Attorney General for Ontario, is appointed a judge of the Superior Court of Justice in Durham. Justice Speyer was born and raised in Calgary before moving to Ontario and then British Columbia. The eldest child of immigrants from the Netherlands, she earned a law degree in 1983 from Queen’s University. Justice Speyer articled with the Crown Law Office-Criminal, and following her call to the bar, practised there as counsel for 10 years, arguing criminal appeals in the Ontario Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada. She then gained extensive trial experience as a prosecutor at every level of trial court; first as an assistant Crown attorney, and then Crown attorney for the County of Wellington in Guelph, Ont.. In 2013, she was assigned the role of coroner’s counsel at the inquest into the death of Ashley Smith. Justice Speyer then returned to her roots at the Crown Law Office-Criminal, where she worked as chief counsel until her appointment. She replaces Justice Jane Ferguson, who transferred to Toronto to replace Justice Harriet Sachs, who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective June 30, 2016.