In a recent announcement made by the Minister of National Defence, the Honourable Bill Blair, Canada welcomed a new Chief Military Judge, Captain(N) Catherine Julie Deschênes. Effective immediately, Captain(N) Deschênes assumes the role of Chief Military Judge, succeeding Lieutenant-Colonel Louis-Vincent d’Auteuil, who has been serving as the interim Chief Military Judge since March 2020.

Captain(N) Deschênes brings with her a wealth of experience and expertise to her new role. Prior to her appointment as a Military Judge in 2019, she served as a Legal Advisor in the Office of the Chief of the Defence Staff, providing invaluable legal counsel across various domains. Her journey into the legal realm began when she enrolled in the Naval Reserve in 1989, initially serving as a Medical Assistant. Later, she transitioned into a Maritime Surface and Sub-surface Officer role in 1995. While in the Naval Reserve, Captain(N) Deschênes pursued her academic ambitions, earning a Bachelor of Laws from Université Laval.

In 1999, Captain(N) Deschênes transitioned to the Regular Force as a Legal Officer, where she continued to excel, undertaking diverse roles within the Office of the Judge Advocate General. Her contributions have extended both across Canada and on various international operations.

Military judges play a crucial role in the Canadian Armed Forces, presiding over courts martial and fulfilling other judicial duties outlined in the National Defence Act. These responsibilities include conducting judicial reviews of pre-trial custody arrangements, ensuring adherence to legal protocols and principles within the military framework.

The appointment of Captain(N) Deschênes underscores the importance of ensuring that military judges possess a solid foundation of experience and legal acumen. According to the National Defence Act, military judges must have served as military officers for at least ten years and have been members of a provincial bar for a similar duration. Captain(N) Deschênes not only meets but exceeds these requirements, bringing forth a wealth of knowledge garnered through decades of service and legal practice.

As Canada welcomes Captain(N) Deschênes into her new role, Minister Blair extends his gratitude to Lieutenant-Colonel Louis-Vincent d’Auteuil for his dedicated service as interim Chief Military Judge. With Captain(N) Deschênes at the helm, the Canadian Armed Forces can continue to uphold the principles of justice and fairness, ensuring that military proceedings are conducted with integrity and diligence.