Focus On

Five new judges for Alberta

Wednesday, May 16, 2018 @ 3:12 PM | By Carolyn Gruske

The Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta has received a number of judicial appointments.

James T. Neilson was appointed a justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta in Edmonton.

A partner at Parlee McLaws LLP, he joined the firm as a civil litigator after receiving his call to the Alberta bar. Justice Neilson’s practice has involved mainly commercial and insurance-related disputes, including complex multi-party litigation. He has also acted as counsel for residential school survivors in the Residential Schools Independent Assessment Process. Justice Neilson is certified as a qualified arbitrator by the ADR Institute of Canada and has practiced as an arbitrator in commercial and insurance cases. He has also been a member of the bar in the Northwest Territories and Ontario.

Justice Neilson is a past president of the Edmonton Bar Association and has served on several committees of the Law Society of Alberta (LSA), including the practice advisory, audit and conduct committees. He was a volunteer instructor in civil litigation for the Legal Education Society of Alberta (LESA) bar admission course and a sessional chair and instructor at the LESA civil litigation refresher course at Lake Louise. For the past 10 years, Justice Neilson has been a volunteer legal advisor with the Edmonton Legal Centre and has also volunteered with the Civil Court Duty Counsel project. He has been a member of the Edmonton Community Legal Centre board of directors and the board of directors for the Legal Archives Society of Alberta.

He replaces Justice Eric F. Macklin, who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective April 6, 2018.

Nancy Dilts was appointed to a new position as a justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta in Calgary.

She has worked for the government, for a private law firm and as an in-house counsel. Justice Dilts began her career articling with the federal Department of Justice in Saskatoon before moving to Calgary and joining Milner Fenerty (now Dentons Canada LLP). She then went to work at Gulf Canada Resources as litigation counsel, where she oversaw litigation across Canada and the U.S. on oil and gas matters, environmental issues, shareholder disputes, regulatory licensing, and employment and human rights complaints. In 2001, Justice Dilts became vice-president legal and general counsel of ConocoPhillips Canada. Following that, Justice Dilts has served as a senior executive with a number of energy companies, overseeing departments including legal, shared services, human resources, regulatory and government affairs.

Justice Dilts served as an elected bencher of the LSA from 2012 to 2018, and acted as the chair or vice-chair of a number of its committees, including practice review, credentials and education, conduct and governance. She also was an adjudicator within the LSA’s regulatory mandate. Justice Dilts has been a member of the boards of Alberta Lawyers Insurance Association (ALIA) and the Alberta Lawyers Insurance Exchange (ALIEX), the Alberta Lawyer’s Assistance Society (ASSIST) and the University of Calgary law faculty council.

Anne Kirker was appointed a new position as a justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta in Calgary.

Justice Kirker worked as a pediatric nurse before obtaining her law degree. Currently, she is a senior partner at Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP and has made a career of handling complex commercial and professional liability matters. She has frequently been called upon to represent other lawyers and law firms, handling a broad range of legal issues arising in areas of contract and commercial transactions, insurance, family law, personal injury, real estate, conflict of laws, class actions, wills and estates, tax and criminal procedure.

Justice Kirker has served as bencher and president of the LSA, as a board member of the Alberta Law Reform Institute, and as a member of ALIEX’s advisory board. She has also volunteered her time as an instructor of trial advocacy, civil procedure, and professional practice and ethics, and published numerous continuing legal education articles. Justice Kirker is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.

Jane A. Fagnan was appointed a justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta in Edmonton.

She has been a member of the court for nearly 20 years, serving as legal counsel, where she has worked with over 75 judges on substantive matters involving issues in criminal, administrative, family, commercial, estate and other areas of law. Justice Fagnan was also involved in the work of various court committees, created educational resources, provided language assistance on French files, and played a primary role in the administration of the court’s articling program. Before joining the court, she practised at Snyder & Associates LLP.

Justice Fagnan has taught legal research and writing as a sessional instructor at the University of Alberta. She has also been active in the research section of the Canadian Bar Association and in the Association des juristes d’expression française de l’Alberta.

She replaces Justice Juliana E. Topolniski, who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective April 8, 2018.

April D. Grosse was appointed to a new position as a justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta in Calgary.

She is a partner at Bennett Jones LLP where she maintains a diverse litigation practice, with particular experience in commercial, estates, policing and administrative law matters. Outside of clerking for Justice John Sopinka and Justice Ian Binnie at the Supreme Court of Canada, Justice Grosse has spent her entire career at Bennett Jones. She has been a member of the firm’s board of directors since 2015.

Justice Grosse is proficient in both English and French and volunteered with organizations that promote bilingualism, such as the Laskin Moot and French for the Future. She has also worked with the Calgary Bar Association, the Supreme Court Advocacy Institute, the Centre for Professional Legal Education and the Scarboro Community Association.