New Supreme Court Justice taught many Red Deer lawyers, nomination lauded

As a dean of the University of Calgary’s faculty of law, newly appointed Supreme Court Justice Sheilah Martin had an impact on many lawyers, some of whom now practice in Red Deer.

Jason Snider, president of the Red Deer Criminal Defence Lawyers Association, fondly recalled his time in law school in the 1990s.

“She’s very personable and extremely intelligent,” said Snider. “As a professor she was able to cut through the issues and relate to you on a human level, but at the same time had a breadth of knowledge.”

Martin was nominated to Canada’s top court Wednesday morning by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Martin served as dean from 1991 to 1996.

Since being called to the bar, Snider has had trials before Martin and worked with her.

“She’s an excellent judge,” said Snider. “Has a very common sense approach and a balanced application of the law. I’ve never seen her cases appealed successfully.

“When I saw the announcement, I thought it was a great appointment. She’ll be a great mind there.”

In 2015, when Martin was an Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Justice, she presided over a Red Deer perjury trial connected to a violent stabbing. She found a Red Deer woman guilty of perjury for lying on the stand during the murder trial of Paul Lionel White, 30. White was eventually convicted of the 2005 stabbing death of Grant Shoemaker, 21.

The Red Deer woman was the girlfriend of White at the time of stabbing. She testified during White’s trial that she killed Shoemaker. She was sentenced to 16 months in prison.

First appointed as a judge in 2005, Martin served on the Court of Queen’s Bench until June 2016, when she was appointed to the Court of Appeal of Alberta, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. She had also served as a deputy judge for the Supreme Court of Yukon since 2009.

She will fill the vacancy left by retiring Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin. Trudeau has not yet named a new chief justice. She can serve until the mandatory for Supreme Court Justices, aged 75, which would be in 2029.

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