Canadians expect their judges to be fair, to apply the law, and to live up to high standards of professional and personal conduct. To achieve those standards, judges engage in on-going education that is designed to maintain their knowledge of the law and ensure they are sensitive to the social and cultural context of the communities in which they work.
When judges are first appointed to the Provincial Court of Prince Edward Island, they attend two week-long education programs, one on law and the other on judicial skills. Topics covered include judicial ethics, substantive law, evidence and procedure, judgment writing, and diversity and social context issues. These programs are designed to assist the judge in making the transition from being the lawyer who presented a case, to the judge who now hears and decides the case.
New Judges’ Education Program
Each spring, judges appointed during the preceding year attend a six-day New Judges’ Education Program organized by the Canadian Association of Provincial Court Judges (CAPCJ) for provincial, territorial and military judges from across the country. With a primary focus on criminal law and the Canadian Charter of Rights, this intensive program offers judicial and academic speakers with national reputations and the opportunity to learn about practices and procedures in other parts of Canada.
Judicial Skills Program
Each fall, the recently appointed judges attend a six-day judicial skills seminar presented by the National Judicial Institute and CAPCJ. The program includes sessions on judicial ethics, the delivery of written and oral judgments, self-represented litigants, communication skills, managing the courtroom, and mediation in family and civil cases.
The law is constantly changing, either as a result of new federal or provincial legislation, or because of new decisions by appeal courts. Society and cultures also continue to change, both in Canada, and locally in Prince Edward Island.
Learning is a life-long process. It is no different for judges. To assist in their professional development, judges participate in ongoing education throughout their judicial careers to keep current with changes in the law and in society. This may include programs presented by the Atlantic Provincial Court Judges Educational Committee, the Canadian Association of Provincial Court Judges, the National Judicial Institute, the Canadian Bar Association, the Federation of Law Societies, as well as those offered on a local or regional basis by other legal or community organizations. Online education programs are also available to judges.