BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN
Manitoba Associate Chief Judge Shawna Hewitt-Michta smiles as her appointment is read out by Chief Judge Ken Champagne during a ceremony at the Brandon courthouse on Friday afternoon.
A 15-year veteran of the Brandon courthouse officially ascended to leadership yesterday, adding to the weight southwest Manitoba carries in the provincial judicial system.
Shauna Hewitt-Michta was sworn in as a provincial associate chief judge, an administrative position she will hold for seven years. At 39, she is the youngest judge on the bench.
"She is a no-nonsense, hard-working, plain-speaking judge with her feet squarely planted on the ground," Chief Justice Richard Chartier of the Manitoba Court of Appeal said during the swearing-in ceremony.
While maintaining her position on the bench, Hewitt-Michta will now be involved in the overall direction of the provincial court system in all areas outside of Winnipeg.
Hewitt-Michta is one of several Westman lawyers who have assumed high-ranking positions in 2013.
David Swayze of Brandon was named president of the Law Society of Manitoba, Sheldon Lanchbery of Deloraine was called up as a Court of Queen’s Bench judge and Scott Abel of Virden was named president of the Manitoba Bar Association.
"2013 is definitely the year for southwestern Manitoba," Chartier said.
With several local newspaper clippings in hand that feature Hewitt-Michta’s decisions, Provincial Chief Judge Ken Champagne said "there seems to be a love affair with Hewitt-Michta and the people of Brandon.
"With Shauna’s leadership, I know we will continue to move forward," he said to the nearly filled courtroom. "We are thrilled to have you part of the administrative team of the provincial court."
Hewitt-Michta made headlines this year for being tough on drunk drivers. Twice in one day, she imposed tougher sentences than the crown attorneys sought.
Hewitt-Michta has recently presided over some of Brandon’s more high-profile cases, including an ongoing case involving five men charged in connection with the operation of a smoke shop in the RM of Pipestone.
She has been a regular guest speaker in the Brandon region for law enforcement and other community groups, with a focus on areas such as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, elder abuse, child abuse and pornography prosecutions, testifying in court and restorative justice.
Hewitt-Michta recently started a Westman justice roundtable, a regular meeting of agencies that deal with the court on a regular basis.
"It’s for the purpose of receiving feedback from those people in terms of how the court’s functioning and also to work together to try and be more effective and efficient and do a better job," she said following the ceremony.
During its first meeting recently, 22 special interest organizations were represented, she added.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 5, 2013