The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin: 2017 winner of the G. Arthur Martin Criminal Justice Medal for lifetime achievement in criminal law

Toronto, ON, June 23, 2017 – The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin has been chosen the 2017 winner of the prestigious G. Arthur Martin Criminal Justice Medal for lifetime achievement in criminal law.

Chief Justice McLachlin has been at the forefront of the development of Canadian criminal law for over three decades. Throughout it all, the hallmarks of her approach have been balance, compassion and a commitment to individual rights.

The Martin Medal came into being in 1989. Named for a former lion of the defence bar who went on to be a leading light on the Ontario Court of Appeal, recipients are chosen based on lifelong achievement and a sustained commitment to the principles and advancement of the criminal law.

Previous winners include former Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Antonio Lamer and The Honourable Louise Arbour, legendary defence counsel Austin Cooper and Edward Greenspan, and numerous other luminaries that have shaped the Canadian criminal justice landscape.

Chief Justice McLachlin has had a significant influence on Canadian criminal law and rightfully shares the medal with Justices Lamer, Arbour, Cory and Fish of her Court. She has managed to preserve and grow the influence of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms without sacrificing the Court’s hard-won credibility with the public. As just one example, the Chief Justice authored the important majority judgments in R. v. Nur, 2015 SCC 15 and R. v. Lloyd, 2016 SCC 13. Together, these two cases enhanced the Court’s reputation as a thought leader in criminal justice policy. In particular, they reinforced proportionality as a constitutional principle.

The enactment and jurisprudential development of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms has been, by any account, the most significant influence on the direction of criminal law over the past 35 years. Chief Justice McLachlin has been there from the start, emerging over the years as one of the Charter’s most influential exponents and interpreters.

Her judicial career began in April 1981 when she was appointed to the Vancouver County Court. In September 1981, she was appointed to the Supreme Court of British Columbia. She was elevated to the British Columbia Court of Appeal in December 1985 and was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia in September 1988. Seven months later, in April 1989, she was sworn in as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. On January 7, 2000, she was appointed Chief Justice of Canada. She is the first woman to hold this position.

The Martin Medal will be presented to Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin at a gala luncheon held during the CLA annual convention in October 2017.

The Criminal Lawyers’ Association is a not-for-profit association representing defence lawyers in Canada. The mandate of the association is to serve as a strong voice for criminal lawyers and other stakeholders concerned with the quality of criminal justice in Canada.

For more information contact:

Anthony Laycock
Executive Director, Criminal Lawyers’ Association


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