N.S. increases gender, diversity balance on bench with four appointments

Nova Scotia's provincial and family courts have come closer to gender and diversity balance, with the appointment of two black lawyers, an openly gay lawyer and a female Crown attorney as judges.

Premier Stephen McNeil announced the appointments Friday of Rickcola Brinton of Halifax, Amy Sakalauskas of Dartmouth, Samuel Moreau of Antigonish and Rosalind Michie of Digby, bringing the number of full-time provincial and family court judges to 38, of which 18 are women.

Brinton is a black woman who has been the managing lawyer with Legal Aid's youth office in Halifax for more than 15 years.

Sakalauskas, who is gay, is a Department of Justice lawyer who most recently practised in the child protection field and has worked nationally on LGBTQ issues.

Moreau is a black man currently with Nova Scotia Legal Aid's Port Hawkesbury office who has practised law for 18 years, and sits on the Nova Scotia Barristers Society Hearing Committee.

Michie has been senior Crown counsel with the public prosecution service since 2012.

Chief Judge Pamela Williams says it's exciting to see more women breaking into what traditionally has been a male-dominated profession.

And Williams says the fact several of the new judges come from diverse backgrounds is a bonus, because a well-rounded judiciary goes a long way to increasing people's confidence in the legal system.

With files from The Canadian Press