FREDERICTON (GNB) – For the first time, the provincial court of New Brunswick will have gender parity among its full-time judges and will be presided over by the first female chief judge.

“Studies show that when a jurisdiction advances women’s equality, it helps strengthen its economy and the quality of life of its residents,” said Premier Brian Gallant. “We are pleased that these competent and qualified women will be able to serve in these important positions. By appointing five judges, we will also improve access to the justice system for the people of New Brunswick.”

Five new provincial court judges were named today, which will bring the total number of full-time judges to 24 upon the current chief judge taking supernumerary status in June. With today’s announcement, seven of the eight provincial court judges appointed since October 2014 have been female. Starting this June, there will be gender parity among New Brunswick judges.

Jolène Richard, currently a judge of the provincial court based in Moncton, has been named chief judge effective June 2. Pierre Arsenault, chief judge of the provincial court, is stepping down to take supernumerary status.

“Judge Richard has been a member of the provincial court since 2008,” said Arsenault. “She is a very talented individual and a jurist of the highest competence. Her great personal energy, her work ethic and her experience on the bench amply qualify her not only to see the administrative tasks in the court are carried out but also to address the needs of the public generally. I applaud her appointment as chief judge.”

Richard was appointed to the bench in November 2008. She obtained her law degree from the Université de Moncton in 1992 and was admitted to the New Brunswick bar in 1993. She practised law for 15 years, with extensive litigation experience before the Trial and Family Divisions of the Court of Queen’s Bench and had appeared before the Court of Appeal, before being appointed. Prior to her appointment, Richard was a partner with Stewart McKelvey and had served as vice-president of the Family Law Section of the Canadian Bar Association and as an instructor with the Bar Admission Course.

The other newly-named judges are:

  • Joanne Durette, a travelling judge based in Bathurst;
  • Johanne-Marguerite Landry, a travelling judge based in Caraquet;
  • Natalie LeBlanc, a sitting judge based in Miramichi;
  • Lucie Mathurin, a sitting judge based in Moncton; and
  • Kelly Ann Winchester, a sitting judge based in Saint John.

Durette attended the Université de Moncton (Campus d’Edmundston) where she was enrolled in Social Sciences/Psychology from 1984 to1986 until she was accepted into law school. She graduated from the Université de Moncton with a bachelor of laws in 1989. She was called to the New Brunswick bar on June 19, 1990.

Landry graduated from the Université de Moncton with a bachelor of music in 1982 and a bachelor of laws in 2002. She was called to the New Brunswick bar on June 10, 2004.

LeBlanc studied Health Sciences at the Université de Moncton from 1993 to 1995, graduated from Acadia University with a bachelor of arts in 1997 and graduated from the Université de Moncton with a bachelor of laws in 2001. She was called to the New Brunswick bar on Jan. 15, 2003.

Mathurin studied Administration at the University of New Brunswick from 1992 to 1994, graduated from Acadia University with a bachelor of sports management in 1997 and graduated from Université de Moncton with a bachelor of laws in 2000. She was called to the New Brunswick bar on June 8, 2001.

Winchester graduated from St. Francis Xavier University with a bachelor of science in 1980 and from the University of New Brunswick with a bachelor of laws in 1983. She was called to the New Brunswick bar on March 15, 1984.

All were interviewed by an independent panel made up of the chief justice, the chief judge or associate chief judge and one of the provincial judicial appointment review advisors, who represents the general public.