The federal Department of Justice was left red-faced - and a press secretary short on words - after releasing an announcement wrongly naming a Thunder Bay lawyer a new judge of the Superior Court of Justice.
Carrel & Partners LLP lawyer Danial Newton was wrongly included on the lengthy list of new appointments from across the country that was released June 19 at 4:39 p.m.
The announcement stated that Newton would be replacing Thunder Bay Justice T.A. Platana “who elected to become a supernumerary judge.”
Three hours later, at 7:30 p.m., the department issued a corrected list of new appointments with the following notice: “An earlier version of this press release erroneously referred to the appointment of W. Danial Newton to the Superior Court of Ontario in Thunder Bay. There have been no current appointments to the Superior Court of Ontario in Thunder Bay.”
Darren Eke, press secretary to Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, is listed as a contact following the announcement. He was unable to shed much light on the gaffe.
“It was an unfortunate clerical error and we issued an apology to Mr. Newton as soon as we found out about it,” says Eke.
How was the “clerical error” made?
“Again, it was an unfortunate clerical error,” replies Eke.
How was the mistake discovered?
“Again, as soon as we found out about it we issued an apology,” says Eke. “Again, I’m not going to get into any details.”
What’s the status of the judicial vacancy in Thunder Bay that Newton was wrongly slated to fill?
“Again, I’m not going to comment any further. What occurred on Friday was an unfortunate
clerical error,” he says.
Any changes planned to internal office practices to prevent a similar mistake? Well, you get the idea.
It’s not the first time the department has issued incorrect statements about judicial appointments.
An Ontario Superior Court office worker was confused when called by Law Times in May after the Department of Justice’s announcement wrongly stated that new Superior Court appointee Justice Michael Code would be replacing Justice J.D. McCombs.
The worker quickly retorted that McCombs was about to get started on a new trial. It later came to light that McCombs has elected to become a supernumerary judge.
The department never issued a clarification of that announcement. Eke, meanwhile, wouldn’t acknowledge it when questioned.
“Again, I have no comment. It was an unfortunate clerical error that occurred on Friday,” says Eke when asked about the McCombs announcement.
The announcement regarding Newton went on to outline his credentials, including a BA from the University of Toronto in 1979 and a LLB from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1982.
The civil litigation specialist was called to the bar in 1984 and “was a partner at Carrel & Partners LLP from 1984 to 2009,” stated the announcement.
Newton did not respond to Law Times’ requests for comment.