As a former graduate of Churchill Community High School, Erin Layton had no idea someday she would be appointed a judge to the local courthouse.
But that’s exactly what happened earlier today as friends, family and colleagues gathered at the La Ronge Provincial Court to observe as Layton took the oath of office and allegiance. One at a time, members of the legal community addressed Layton to let her know she has their support in her new role. Jim Plemel, the chief judge of the Provincial Court of Saskatchewan, told Layton an appointment to the bench is an achievement and great honour, but comes with immense responsibilities and some sacrifices.
“You have been appointed because of your acknowledged ability as a lawyer, because you have a reputation for hard work and integrity, and because you are believed to have the appropriate temperament to perform the judicial role,” he said. “You have a reputation as a consummate professional. Your appreciation of human and legal rights, and your underlying compassion for people, made you an exemplary lawyer and will serve you well as a judge.”
Layton spent much of her childhood living in Missinipi and graduated from Churchill in 1991. She later earned a law degree from the University of Saskatchewan in 2000 and began work as a lawyer with Eisner Mahon Burningham in Melfort. Layton worked as a lawyer with the Saskatchewan Legal Aid Commission in La Ronge and Prince Albert.
She was officially appointed to the bench in November and has already served as a judge in La Ronge. Layton replaced Judge Mary McAuley, who has assumed Cree Court duties in Prince Albert. As a lawyer, Layton said she enjoyed every minute of it.
“It’s been a great profession. It’s been very kind to me and I’ve been able to work with the most amazing people both as clients, Crown and defence,” she said. “It’s very humbling to be in the North. The criminal justice system has had a huge impact on the people of the North and certainly it’s a big responsibility to consider those kind of things as I sit as a judge.”
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