The courtroom can be a bit overwhelming for the uninitiated.
You've got a number of people in it with very specialized
roles. There are sheriffs, court clerks, and lawyers. Members of
the public are generally allowed to sit in the back to observe.
Of course, the most noticeable person in the courtroom is the
judge. The judge sits front and centre on an elevated bench
overlooking everything. The judge might be listening quietly to the
proceedings. Or the judge may direct individuals in the room to
move things along.
Regardless, for anyone watching a courtroom proceeding, the
judge's command of the room is obvious. When the judge speaks,
everyone listens. And everyone is expected to conduct themselves
with deference to the judge.
So who is that person that sits up on the bench? How did he or
she get to that position? What are the qualifications for a judge
To be clear, we are discussing judges in B.C. courts. Let's
set aside other adjudicators, such as justices of the peace,
masters, or tribunal members. And we're also not talking about
TV judges like Judge Judy—that's a fun discussion but
it's for another time.
B.C. has superior courts: the B.C. Supreme Court and the B.C.
Court of Appeal. B.C. also has provincial court. Although judges of
B.C.'s superior courts are appointed by the federal government,
B.C.'s provincial court judges are appointed by the B.C.
The process in the U.S. can be drastically different. In
contrast to an appointment process, many judges in the U.S. are
elected to the bench. For an entertaining perspective, check out
comedian John Oliver's take on that election process. The TV ads for
campaigning judges that were featured in that piece don't seem
that different from the lawyer ads that I addressed in an earlier article.
So how does someone become a judge in B.C.? Judges start out at
law school, just like any lawyer. There is no separate school for
people aspiring to be judges. Judges practise as lawyers for many
years before their appointments. For B.C. judges, this is generally
for a minimum of 10 years.
Just like with any job, lawyers need to apply to become a judge.
They apply to committees or councils that are set up to vet
candidates. These councils are made up of judges, lawyers, and lay
people. They will consider a candidate's skills relating to
legal analysis, decision-making, and communication.
But they also consider other factors, such as the
candidate's reputation among lawyers and judges, health, and
standing in the community. If all goes well, the council recommends
the candidate to the government for appointment. The government has
the final say on whether or not a candidate is appointed to the
There is importance placed on ensuring that the judiciary is
diverse and reflective of our society. A justice system is only
able to instill confidence if the bench is representative of the
public. A spokesperson for Suzanne Anton, provincial minister of
justice and attorney general, sent us this statement:
"Our government is committed to ensuring a diverse
judiciary. We are making progress in this area. The Chief Judge and
I look forward to, and encourage, a broad range of applicants to
the Judicial Council of British Columbia so that we can continue to
build a judicial complement that reflects the diversity of all
The Judicial Council of British Columbia makes recommendations
to the government for provincial court judges. It recently
addressed its strategy on promoting diversity in the judiciary in
its last annual report. The strategy includes working toward
encouraging lawyers from diverse backgrounds to apply and improving
the transparency of the application process.
Application forms were changed in June 2013 so applicants could
voluntarily include information such as their ethnic and cultural
backgrounds. This was to help the council focus their efforts on
getting a diverse applicant pool. For a breakdown of applicant
demographics and the council's efforts to promote diversity,
have a look at the last annual report of the B.C. Judicial
Judges are an integral part of our justice system. They resolve
our disputes and decide on our rights. We should all have a good
understanding of how our judges are appointed. Ultimately, we all
benefit if we have a better understanding of our justice
It's not often that our little blog intersects with such titanic struggles as the U.S. presidential race – and by using the term "titanic" I certainly don't mean to suggest that anything disastrous is in the future.
J.J. v. C.C., is an interesting case in which the court held that an automotive garage owes a duty to minor children to secure the vehicles on the premises by locking the cars and safely storing the car keys...
In Irwin v. Alberta Veterinary Medical Association, 2015 ABCA 396, the Alberta Court of Appeal found that the "ABVMA" failed to afford procedural fairness to a veterinarian undergoing an incapacity assessment.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).