North Bay’s Greg Ellies overseas court from Wawa to the Quebec border, and from James Bay to Parry Sound
Greg Ellies was working a summer job with the probation office in Kirkland Lake when he was dispatched by the presiding judge to chase down a young offender who had fled the courtroom.
It happened in Kirkland Lake when he was about 18, and the young female defendant suddenly darted from the courtroom.
“Go get her,” Provincial Court Justice Edward Kenrick ordered him.
So he did, chasing her down Duncan Avenue and returning her to the courtroom, despite some help from a man on the street.
“He was trying to help her,” Ellies, now a Superior Court Justice and the newly appointed Regional Senior Judge for the Northeast Region of the Superior Court of Justice, says.
Ellies chuckles at the memory, prompted by mention of Kenrick’s name, and smiles at the thought of some of the other luminaries he has known over the years from both sides of the bench.
There was the late Dick Donnelly, for example, a lawyer and one-time member of North Bay council, who was a legend in the North Bay courthouse. Ellies was part of Donnelly’s firms a few years after Ellies was called to the bar.
“He was an outstanding lawyer,” Ellies says.
One of the firms Ellies was a partner at – Lucenti, Orlando & Ellies – produced four judges – Justice Spyros D. Loukidelis, Justice Mike Bolan, Justice Paul Rivard and Ellies himself.
“It does say something about the quality of the firm,” Ellies admits.
He also had the opportunity to defend a murder case with his father, the late Murray Ellies of Kirkland Lake, another Northern Ontario judicial legend.
“He could control a courtroom like no one you have ever met,” Ellies says. “There were a couple of young Crowns (Crown attorneys) who wouldn’t talk to my dad. They would talk to me and I would talk to my dad.”
His father’s greatest talent, he said, was that he would find the one thing that could turn the entire case around.
“It impressed the heck out of me,” he says.
Ellies was appointed a judge of the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario in 2010. He had earned his BA and LL.B. from the University of Western Ontario and moved to North Bay with a law school friend, Scott Saltstone, to open an office in this city in 1986.
“We met in law school and agreed to start a practice together,” Ellies says. “I eventually drove him into medical school.”
He then went to the Birnie & McMillan law firm, became a partner at Donnelly, Birnie and then moved on to Lucenti, Orlando & Ellies.
Ellies was still in law school when the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms came into being, changing the complexion of the legal community in Canada.
“If you were going to be a lawyer, it was a great time to be called to the bar,” Ellies says.
“We were watching the Charter being interpreted all through these cases,” he says.
As the Regional Senior Justice, Ellies exercises the powers and performs the duties of the Chief Justice in the Northeast region, one of eight judicial regions in the province.
The Divisional Court, Small Claims Court, and Family Court are all branches of the Superior Court of Justice.
The Northeastern region stretches from Wawa to the Quebec border, and from James Bay to Parry Sound.
The region has 18 full-time judicial positions, although there are two vacancies he hopes will be filled.
Because of those vacancies, he admits, he will probably be spending a lot of time on the bench.
Ellies takes over the position formerly held by Justice Robbie D. Gordon, who has transferred back to the regular complement of judges in Sudbury.
Gordon was appointed to the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario in 2006 and served for eight years before his elevation to Regional Senior Judge in 2014.
Ellies taught criminal and constitutional law part time at Nipissing University from 1987-1989 and has been a member of the Criminal Lawyers Association and is a member of the Advocates Society.
He has been a frequent speaker at Canadore College and Nipissing University, as well as the Rotary Club.
He was a member of the Canadian Cancer Society and the Kiwanis Club of Nipissing for nearly 40 years.