Newspaper article The Canadian Press

B.C. Judge Josiah Wood Remembered for His Compassion for People Who Needed Help

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

B.C. Judge Josiah Wood Remembered for His Compassion for People Who Needed Help

Article excerpt

Provincial court Judge Josiah Wood dies of cancer


VICTORIA - Provincial court Judge Josiah Wood showed his drive for the legal profession early in what would become a remarkable career fuelled by his compassion for people who needed help.

Wood, who worked in Duncan, B.C., after stints at two higher levels of court, died Monday after a short bout with pancreatic cancer. He was 73.

Wood graduated from the University of B.C. law school in 1967 along with former attorney general and judge Wally Oppal.

"Joe was a civil libertarian," Oppal said of his good friend. "He defended people who needed to be defended and he cared for people who were poor."

Wood was an articling student for former lawyer Bill Deverell.

"A supremely skilled trial lawyer who charmed juries not by being a wily courtroom thespian but by being true to himself, honest, straightforward and caring, with a quick wit and gentle, self-deprecating touch," Deverell, now a best-selling author, said in an email.

Wood acted as defence lawyer for those charged in the so-called Gastown Riot of Aug. 7, 1971.

Vancouver police, under the direction of then-mayor Tom Campbell, clashed with about 2,000 youth supporting the legalization of marijuana. About 80 protesters were arrested and 38 were charged, many complaining of police using excessive force.

"Mayor Tom Campbell decided these hippies were enemies of the state and he invoked the War Measures Act ... where loitering was to be an offence," Oppal said.

Wood's talent was noted by colleagues, and he was promoted to the B.C. Supreme Court bench in 1983. In 1989, he was appointed to the B.C. Court of Appeal -- the province's highest court -- and stayed there until 1996, when he decided to return to private practice.

"It's tough being a judge," Oppal said. "You don't make the kind of money you'd make in private practice."

But the rules of the Vancouver law firm would have forced Wood to retire earlier than he wanted, so he applied for a job as a provincial court judge and was assigned to Duncan. …

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