Sheilah Martin

Justin Trudeau Court of Appeal of Alberta Malcolm Rowe

Sheilah Martin
Puisne Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada
Assumed office
December 18, 2017
Nominated byJustin Trudeau
Appointed byJulie Payette
Preceded byRichard Wagner
Puisne Justice of the Court of Appeal of Alberta
In office
June 17, 2016 – December 18, 2017
Nominated byJustin Trudeau
Appointed byDavid Johnston
Preceded byClifton D. O'Brien
Succeeded byJolaine Antonio
Personal details
Sheilah L. Martin

(1956-05-31) May 31, 1956 (age 64)[1]
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
EducationMcGill University Faculty of Law
University of Alberta Faculty of Law
University of Toronto Faculty of Law

Sheilah L. Martin (born May 21, 1956)[1] is a Puisne Justice on the Supreme Court of Canada, having served in that role since December 18, 2017. She was nominated to the court by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on November 29, 2017.[2][3] Before her appointment to Canada's highest court, Martin had served on the Court of Appeal of Alberta, the Court of Appeal for the Northwest Territories, and the Court of Appeal of Nunavut since 2016, and the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta from 2005 to 2016.[1] Martin is functionally bilingual and is considered an expert in judicial ethics.[1]

Early life and career

Martin was born and raised in Montreal.[2] She earned a Bachelor of Civil Law and a Bachelor of Common Law from McGill University in 1981.[4] She then moved to Alberta to pursue her career.[2] Martin was called to the Alberta Bar in 1989, and has mainly practiced in the province since.[4]

Martin earned a Master of Laws from the University of Alberta in 1983.[4] Between 1982 and 1986, she worked as a researcher and law professor at the University of Calgary.[5] Martin earned her Doctorate of Juridical Science from the University of Toronto in 1991.[4] She then served as acting dean and then permanent dean of the University of Calgary's Faculty of Law from 1991 to 1996.[5]

Martin practiced corporate, commercial, criminal, and constitutional law from 1996 until she left Code Hunter LLP after her appointment as a judge in 2005.[1][4][6][5] She also worked pro bono for the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) and the Alberta Association of Sexual Assault Centres in cases that reached the Supreme Court. Martin also worked on the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, and on the team that won compensation in the wrongful conviction case of David Milgaard.[4]

Over the years, Martin has received numerous awards, including the Distinguished Service Award for Legal Scholarship, the Law Society of Alberta’s Certificate of Merit, and the YWCA’s Advancement of Women Award.[7]

Early judicial career

In 2005, Martin was appointed as judge to the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta in Calgary. Since 2009, she had also served as a deputy judge for the Supreme Court of Yukon.[1] As a trial judge, she was one of the first judges in Canada to permit court journalists to use instant messaging in the courtroom while proceedings were ongoing.[4]

In March 2016, Martin issued the first judicial approval in Canada for a person requesting assisted death after the Supreme Court's decision in Carter v Canada (AG). She allowed the assisted death for a woman diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and held the hearing closed to the public and media to respect her privacy. Martin decided that statements in support of the application from two doctors were sufficient, a decision which rejected guidelines from the Supreme Court of British Columbia and the Ontario Superior Court of Justice that more statements were required. Martin also held that no psychiatric assessment on the day of death was necessary, and that the applicant's request should not fail on technical or legalistic grounds. Martin also ruled that the ruling would apply across Canada, which allowed the applicant to travel out of province in order to fulfill her wish of assisted death.[8]

In June 2016, Martin was appointed by Prime Minister Trudeau to the Court of Appeal of Alberta, the Court of Appeal for the Northwest Territories, and the Court of Appeal of Nunavut.[1]

Personal life

Martin was married to Hersh Wolch, a defence lawyer she met at a law conference, from 2000 until his death in 2017.[9]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g MacCharles, Tonda (November 29, 2017). "Trudeau names new Supreme Court judge". The Toronto Star. ISSN 0319-0781. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "PM Trudeau names Sheilah L. Martin to Supreme Court". CTVNews. The Canadian Press. November 29, 2017. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
  3. ^ "Prime Minister announces nomination of the Honourable Sheilah L. Martin to the Supreme Court of Canada". (Press release). PMO. November 29, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Connolly, Amanda (November 29, 2017). "New Supreme Court justice will be Alberta's Sheilah Martin". Global News. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Hendry, Mallory (November 29, 2017). "Sheilah Martin is new SCC judge". Canadian Lawyer Magazine. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
  6. ^ "Sheilah L. Martin à la Cour suprême du Canada". (in French). November 29, 2017. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
  7. ^ "Madam Justice Sheilah Martin Holds Court At Famous 5 Event | Pipella Law". Pipella Law. Retrieved 2018-12-01.
  8. ^ Fine, Sean; Church, Elizabeth (March 1, 2016). "ALS sufferer first Canadian to receive judge's approval for assisted death". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
  9. ^ Robertson, Patricia Dawn (August 6, 2017). "Hersh Wolch, a voice for the wrongly convicted, dead at 77". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved November 29, 2017.