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Feds appoint eight judges to Ontario Superior Court

Friday, May 22, 2020 @ 12:07 PM | By John Chunn


The federal Department of Justice (DOJ) on May 22 announced eight judicial appointments to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

According to the DOJ’s press release, Pamela M. Krause, a sole practitioner in Barrie, is appointed a judge of the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario, Family Court Branch. Justice Kraus replaces Justice Frederick Graham (Barrie), who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective July 19, 2019.

Susan Vella, counsel at Rochon Genova LLP in Toronto, is appointed a judge of the Superior Court. Justice Vella replaces Justice Michael F. Brown (Toronto), who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective Sept. 1, 2019.

Eugenia (Gina) Papageorgiou, a sole practitioner in Toronto, is appointed a judge of the Superior Court. Justice Papageorgiou replaces Justice Carolyn J. Horkins (Toronto), who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective Jan. 17, 2020.

Audrey P. C. Ramsay, counsel at Blouin Dunn LLP in Toronto, is appointed a judge of the Superior Court. Justice Ramsay replaces Justice George Czutrin (Toronto), who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective Jan. 30, 2020.

Narissa Somji, counsel at the Public Prosecution Service of Canada in Ottawa, is appointed a judge of the Superior Court. Justice Somji replaces Justice James E. McNamara (Ottawa), who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective Dec. 30, 2019.

Jana Steele, partner at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP in Toronto, is appointed a judge of the Superior Court. Justice Steele replaces Justice Nancy J. Spies (Toronto), who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective Feb. 25, 2020.

Catriona Verner, associate at Lockyer Campbell Posner LLP in Toronto, is appointed a judge of the Superior Court. Justice Verner replaces Justice Alexander Sosna (Oshawa), who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective Oct. 18, 2019.

Renu J. Mandhane, chief commissioner at the Ontario Human Rights Commission in Toronto, is appointed a judge of the Superior Court. Justice Mandhane replaces Justice Peter A. Daley (Brampton), who elected to become a supernumerary judge effective Jan. 31, 2020.

Justice Krause received her LL.B. from the University of Windsor in 1986 and was called to the bar of Ontario in 1988. In 2008, Justice Krause received her LL.M. from Osgoode Hall Law School.

Following her call to the bar, Justice Krause practised civil litigation and family law in Windsor, Ont., until 1997. She then became legal counsel at the Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton-Wentworth. In February 2000, she became senior legal counsel and manager of legal services at the Children’s Aid Society of Simcoe County, where she remained until 2010. Justice Krause then returned to private practice, specializing in the area of family law, including child protection law. She was a member of the personal rights panel for the Office of the Children’s Lawyer and a panel member for the Family Responsibility Office, and she participated in the family duty counsel panel. Justice Krause was also a part-time lawyer member of the Consent and Capacity Board.

Justice Vella was called to the bar of Ontario in 1988. She has worked in a range of private practice settings, commencing her legal career at Blake, Cassels and Graydon and later moving to Goodman and Carr LLP, where she became a partner. She has been at Rochon Genova as senior counsel since 2007.

The DOJ release notes that Justice Vella is a pioneer in the field of civil sexual assault. Her practice also focused on Indigenous issues, public law, and, earlier in her career, commercial litigation. She has acted as trial and appellate counsel at all levels of court, including the Supreme Court of Canada. She received The Advocates’ Society Award of Justice in 2008 and the Law Society Medal in 2009. 

Justice Papageorgiou was born and raised in Toronto by Macedonian/Greek parents, within a community of immigrants. 

Justice Papageorgiou was called to the bar of Ontario in 1991, practised litigation at Stikeman Elliott LLP and then at McCarthy Tetrault LLP, where she became a partner.  Since 2006, she has been counsel to the Class Proceedings Committee of the Law Foundation of Ontario, which facilitates access to justice for the people of Ontario. She has been a deputy judge of small claims court since 2009. She has been a bencher with the Law Society of Ontario (LSO) since 2015.

Justice Ramsay was born in Jamaica and immigrated to Canada at the age of 10. She received an honours BA in political science and French from Wilfrid Laurier University and an LL.B. from the University of Ottawa. Called to the bar in 1995, she has worked both in house and in private practice, focusing on insurance defence, including property and casualty law, professional negligence, commercial law and automobile insurance.

Justice Ramsay joined Blouin Dunn LLP in 2015. She has served on the Civil Rules Committee and on the boards of the Ontario Bar Association, Canadian Defence Lawyers and the Women’s Law Association of Ontario. She has chaired the Canadian Bar Association Sections Subcommittee, the OBA Civil Litigation Section, the OBA Insurance Law Section, as well as the Financial Services Commission of Ontario Counsel Forum.

Justice Somji was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo to parents of South Asian origin and immigrated to Canada in the 1970s. She earned a B.A. from McGill University in 1989, an LL.B. from the University of Ottawa in 1994, and an LL.M specializing in criminal law from Osgoode Hall Law School in 2009. She was admitted to the bar of Ontario in 1996.

Justice Somji started her career as a Crown counsel in Whitehorse, Yukon, where she prosecuted Criminal Code offences and helped launch restorative justice initiatives in Indigenous communities. She returned to Ottawa in 2004 to review wrongful conviction applications on behalf of the minister of Justice. In 2008, she joined the Department of Justice Competition Bureau legal services unit, where she provided legal advice on mergers, civil and criminal matters under the Competition Act. In 2012, Justice Somji joined the Public Prosecution Service of Canada and specialized in the prosecution of Competition Act offences, regulatory offences and economic crimes. She has conducted prosecutions in Ontario, Quebec, the Yukon and Nunavut. 

Justice Steele was born in Toronto and raised in Georgetown, Ont., graduating from Georgetown District High School. She completed her commerce degree at Queen’s University, and her legal studies at Western University in London, Ont., where she was also president of the Student Legal Society and a recipient of the Dean Ivan C. Rand Award.

After her call to the bar in 1997, Justice Steele worked at Stikeman Elliott and was a partner at Goodmans LLP and, most recently, Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt. She started as a taxation associate at Stikemans and later transitioned to trusts, estates, and the growing and important area of pensions law while at Goodmans. 

Justice Steele has chaired the pensions and benefits executive for the Ontario Bar Association and the Steering Committee for the International Pension & Employee Benefits Lawyers Association. She was also a member of the legal advisory committee to the former pension regulator, the Financial Services Commission of Ontario, for many years.

Justice Verner was born in Kingston and lived in a variety of places throughout her youth, including New Zealand, Japan and Europe. She returned to Kingston to complete an undergraduate degree in commerce.

While working on her degree, Justice Verner started volunteering with the John Howard Society. Through her work with those serving life sentences at Kingston Penitentiary, she developed an interest in criminal law and turned her focus to legal studies. She graduated from Queen’s Law School in 1999 and began a practice in criminal defence work. She completed articles at what was then known as Hicks Block Adams LLP and continued as an associate specializing in criminal appeals until she left the firm in 2016. Since then she has been practising with Lockyer Campbell Posner, where her work has been almost exclusively at the Court of Appeal for Ontario and the Supreme Court of Canada.

Justice Verner has spoken at conferences, published several papers, lectured at multiple law schools, and been asked to appear at the Supreme Court of Canada on behalf of the Ontario criminal defence bar as an intervener for the Criminal Lawyers’ Association.

Justice Mandhane received her J.D. from the University of Toronto, articled at Torys LLP, and was admitted to the Law Society of Ontario in 2002. She received her LL.M. from New York University in 2003, publishing her thesis in the Michigan Journal of Gender and Law.

Justice Mandhane practised criminal law with with Diane Oleskiw (now Justice Oleskiw of the Ontario Court of Justice) from 2003 to 2008. She advocated for the rights of women as accused persons, complainants in sexual assault matters and prisoners. She led the University of Toronto's International Human Rights Program from 2009 to 2015. As an adjunct professor, she mentored students, educated judges through the National Judicial Institute, and made presentations at the United Nations. She appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada in Chevron v. Yaiguaje and Ezokola v. Canada.

Justice Mandhane was appointed chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission in 2015. She appeared before parliamentary standing committees and led public inquiries into discrimination in policing, education and child welfare. Under her leadership, the OHRC obtained an order from the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario requiring Ontario to prohibit segregation for prisoners with mental health disabilities.