Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta Justice Bryan E. Mahoney was appointed to QB in Calgary on November 16, 2001, and retired on December 4, 2021, after serving 20 years on the Bench.
Born to a military family in Montreal, Justice Mahoney lived there and at postings in Belgium, Whitehorse, Edmonton and Calgary. A St. Mary’s High School grad, he studied Arts at the University of Calgary (1969) Law at the University of Alberta (1974) and Cambridge University (1978). He was called to the Bar in British Columbia (1975) and Alberta (1979).
As a trial lawyer, Justice Mahoney did general litigation including family, personal injury, criminal and other civil claims. From 1980 to 1995 he lectured as a sessional instructor at the Faculty of Law (Calgary). He was appointed Lawyer-in- Residence in 1984 and Judge-In-Residence in 2013. With his family he spent sabbaticals at different times in England, France and Australia.
Justice Mahoney was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1995. He was elected three times as a Bencher of the Law Society of Alberta. He served as a member of the Board of the Legal Aid Society and the Legal Education Society. As well as being an ABQB Justice, he was also a Deputy Justice of Nunavut and Yukon.
Justice Mahoney is the father of five children, one step-son and a grandfather to eight. He lives with his spouse Kim in the foothills west of Calgary.
Rather than adhering to the typical style used in previously published ABQB retirement profiles, the inimitable Justice Mahoney – a poet and lover of all things literary – chose to present a Proust Questionnaire.
For the uninitiated, a Proust Questionnaire is defined as a set of questions answered by the French essayist and novelist Marcel Proust, and often used by modern interviewers. It has its origins in a confession album, a form of a Victorian-era parlour game popularized (though not devised) by Proust, who believed that, in answering these questions, an individual reveals his or her true nature.
Other historical figures who have answered confession albums are Oscar Wilde, Karl Marx, Arthur Conan Doyle, Stéphane Mallarmé, Paul Cézanne, Martin Boucher and Enzo Kehl.
1. What is your current state of mind? Seeking the universal truths of life as a retired judge.
2. What was the greatest love of being a judge? You can help make your community a better place (and the work is indoors).
3. What do you consider your greatest achievement as a judge? I survived.
4. What is your greatest fear for the Court? That access to justice and long lead times has the public lose confidence in the court system.
5. What was your idea of perfect happiness as a judge? No reserves at the end of Spring term in June.
6. What is the trait you most deplored in yourself as a judge? The need for looming, urgent deadlines before I bear down.
7. What is the trait you most deplore in judges? Lack of preparation followed by judicial arrogance.
8. Which historical justice system person do you most admire? Pierre Trudeau, who embraced change, championed equity, diversity and a true Canadian identity.
9. As a judge, what was your greatest extravagance? Acquiring the latest technology.
10. What do you consider the most overrated virtue of a judge? Detachment.
11. What do you most dislike about judicial appearance? Like they ditched the silly wigs, I would like to ditch the out-of-touch tabs, collars and colored trim costumery. Keep the simple black robe to denote formality and authority.
12. Which words or phrases did you most overuse as a judge? “In this case…” when I should have just said “Here…”
13. Where would you most like to be assigned besides Calgary? I love Medicine Hat. The unique Beaux-Arts courthouse, overlooking the South Saskatchewan River, with the stately “My Cousin Vinnie” style main courtroom is unmatched anywhere in the country.
14. What is your most treasured possession as a judge? My computer mouse. It can find anything.
15. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery as a judge? Being described as out of touch or unable to empathize with the parties appearing before me.
16. What do you most value in your judicial colleagues? The mysterious quality of judicial temperament (without the scowl).
17. Who are your favorite writers? In law: Edward Berry. In life: Ralph Waldo Emerson; Lao Tzu.
18. Who is your hero of fiction? Jean Valjean in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. He failed, learned from his mistakes and became a better, merciful person.
19. Who are your heroes in real life? School teachers.
20. What is your greatest regret? I wished I had said “I love you” more often.
21. What is your motto? When packing for sunshine always gear-up for a storm.