Improving Albertans’ access to justice
The Alberta Government is moving forward with its Budget 2018 commitment to improve access to justice by appointing four judges to newly created Provincial Court positions.
One other judge has been appointed to fill a vacancy on the Provincial bench. These five new judges will help tackle court backlogs and ensure Albertans have timely access to justice, as the government continues to address pressures that have been growing for decades within the province’s justice system.
The 2018 Justice and Solicitor General Budget included funding for four additional Provincial Court judge positions located in Edmonton, Wetaskiwin, and Grande Prairie, 55 new court clerks focused on clearing administrative backlog, 13 more bail clerks, and up to 10 Crown prosecutors. These 10 Crown prosecutor positions are in addition to 10 Crowns focused solely on rural crime as part of the Alberta Government’s $10-million rural crime strategy.
Less than five months after the budget was unveiled in March, all four of the Provincial Court judge positions have been filled, all 13 bail clerks have been hired, 40 court clerks are working, and 4 of 10 Crown positions have been filled. Work is underway to fill the remaining positions created in Budget 2018.
“I want to congratulate our five new Provincial Court judges, who are exceptional additions to the Provincial Court of Alberta. I am confident they will serve Albertans well. By funding more Crown prosecutors, Provincial Court judges, and bail and court clerks, the 2018 budget is increasing timely access to justice for Albertans. We are working hard to fill both existing vacancies and newly created positions in an effort to address court pressures.”
“An increase in resources for the Provincial Court of Alberta is welcome news. An additional Provincial Court judge in Grande Prairie supports our community’s efforts to increase law enforcement and social resources, improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the entire justice system.”
Unlike Court of Queen’s Bench justice positions, which must be funded and appointed by the federal government, the province can both create Provincial Court judge positions and appoint judges to those positions.
Since taking office in 2015, this government has created nine new Court of Queen’s Bench judicial positions and one new Court of Appeal judicial position. The Alberta government has been working with the federal government to encourage them to make appointments to the vacant Queen’s Bench positions.
Biographies of Alberta’s new Provincial Court judges
Randal Brandt has been appointed to Provincial Court, Edmonton Criminal. He received his bachelor of laws from the University of Manitoba, became a member of the Manitoba Bar in 1993 and member of the Alberta Bar in 2004. Brandt has spent the majority of his legal career in Alberta, practising criminal, civil and family law. Prior to his appointment, he spent more than a decade as a prosecutor in the St. Paul office of the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service, and most recently in Edmonton. His community involvement has included serving as a board member and chair on the St. Paul United Church Board of Directors.
Andrea Chrenek has been appointed to Provincial Court in Grande Prairie. She received her bachelor of laws from the University of Alberta and became a member of the Alberta Bar in 1994. Chrenek has practised law in Grande Prairie since 1996, primarily in commercial litigation, employment and family law. She is a past member of the Provincial Court Nominating Committee and served as a facilitator for the Parenting After Separation Seminar. As a community volunteer, her involvement included serving as a member of the Swan City Rotary Club, director of the Grande Prairie Youth Emergency Shelter Society and on the board of the Grande Prairie Women’s Residence Association.
Sandra Corbett, Q.C., has been appointed to Provincial Court, Edmonton Civil. She received her bachelor of laws from the University of Alberta and became a member of the Alberta Bar in 1990. Prior to being appointed, Corbett was a partner with an Edmonton law firm and her practice focused on resolution of complex tort and liability matters in the areas of civil and commercial litigation. She has been recognized for her leadership and efforts to advance women in the legal profession, has been a frequent speaker at legal conferences, and taught insurance law as a sessional instructor at the University of Alberta faculty of law.
Karen Hewitt, Q.C., has been appointed to Provincial Court in Wetaskiwin. She received her bachelor of laws from the University of Alberta and her master of laws from York University. She became a member of the Alberta Bar in 1990. She has spent much of her legal career as a Crown prosecutor with the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service in Edmonton, the regional circuit court locations, and most recently with the Specialized Prosecutions division. Her past involvement within the legal community has included serving as a bencher of the Law Society of Alberta and as a member of various academic, non-profit and Canadian Bar Association committees.
Robert Marceau has been appointed to Provincial Court in Peace River. He received his bachelor of laws from the University of Alberta and became a member of the Alberta Bar in 1999. Prior to his appointment, Marceau was a criminal trial lawyer and partner at a Peace River law firm. A significant part of his work has involved providing legal-aid services to the marginalized and vulnerable populations in the north. He is a member of the Criminal Trial Lawyers Association and a long-term community volunteer and member of the Legal Aid Appeal Committee, which considers appeals from individuals who have been denied coverage for legal services.
Candidates for Provincial Court appointments are screened first by the Alberta Judicial Council and then interviewed by the Provincial Court Nominating Committee (PCNC). The committee provides its recommendations to the minister of Justice and Solicitor General.
The Alberta Judicial Council has representatives from the Alberta Provincial Court, Court of Queen’s Bench, Court of Appeal and the Law Society of Alberta. It also includes two individuals appointed by the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General. The PCNC has 11 members representing the Alberta Provincial Court, the Law Society of Alberta, the Canadian Bar Association ( Alberta Branch) and representatives of the province’s legal community and the public appointed by the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General.