Justice George Murphy had a lot of people to thank for helping him along his journey to becoming a lawyer and now a judge.
Many of them were present when the Cow Head native was sworn in as the newest justice in the trial division of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador during a ceremony in Corner Brook Monday morning.
One person who was not there was Murphy’s late father. In his address to his family, friends and colleagues from the legal profession, Murphy paid tribute to his dad, acknowledging he would be elated to have seen his son appointed to the bench.
“Dad is looking down today with a tear in his eyes and is ever so proud,” said Murphy.
There was a little piece of his dad in the courtroom Monday. Murphy’s son, Joshua, was wearing the bowtie worn by Murphy’s father the day he married Murphy’s mother in 1963.
Murphy, who was appointed by federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay April 11, will replace Justice Robert Stack in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
“I am both honoured and humbled by this appointment and to have been afforded the privilege of serving the people of this great province,” Murphy said. “It is a responsibility I graciously accept and will discharge fairly and impartially, never forgetting the equality of all people.”
Treating people with equality, said Murphy, means always being mindful of the antecedents or background of the person who is before him in the court of law.
“I promise never to forget that,” he said.
The swearing-in ceremony was conducted by Chief Justice David Orsborn of the trial division and was attended by several other Supreme Court and provincial court judges. The event included special congratulations from MacKay, the provincial government, the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Canadian Bar Association.
“I am more convinced than ever that Justice Murphy will be an absolutely excellent addition to our bench and we are extremely grateful to have him,” said Orsborn at the conclusion of the swearing in.
Murphy, who began practising law with the firm Poole Althouse in Corner Brook in 1992, received a bachelor of education and bachelor of physical education from Memorial University in 1987, and a bachelor of laws from Dalhousie University in 1990. He was called to the Bar of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1991 and appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2007.
His main areas of practice were corporate and commercial law, including will and estates, tax planning and labour law. He has also prosecuted drug and other federal offences on an agency basis.
Murphy was elected a bencher of the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2002 and, most recently, served as its president. He served on the Complaints Authorization Committee from 2001 to 2012 and has been a member of the executive committee since 2010.
He also served with local community organizations, including as a board member of the Western Memorial Hospital Foundation, the Corner Brook Port Corporation and the Corner Brook Chamber of Commerce.