Saturday, February 4, 2017

Quadriplegic Crown Prosecutor Appointed to Alberta Queen's Bench

Picture of indigenous judge Jody Fraser before he is sworn in on Wednesday January 20, 2017 in Edmonton. Greg Southam / Postmedia (To go with a Clare Clancy story) For Janet French story
Justice George (Jody) Fraser was sworn in as an Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench judge, which is an honour he said proves “there really are no limits.”  “It’s hopefully advancing things for anybody with any sort of disadvantage,” he said.  Fraser, 49, was a university student and avid athlete when he became paralyzed. The life-changing event happened during a rugby game when he was 19 years old.   “As soon as the scrum came together I broke my neck, I don’t know how or what went wrong,” he said. “I remember lying on the field … and getting into the ambulance.”
Fraser, who is part Metis, would leave the hospital 13 months later. He said he felt trepidation about going home, unsure of what his new life would look like.  But he now knows what he would tell his younger self: “It’ll get better.”  “I was out watching a hockey game, and someone said thank you for prosecuting him … he turned his life around,” Fraser said. “It’s happened a few times.”  His new role will mean presiding over a variety of cases, something that offers an exciting challenge.  “It’s like going back to law school,” he said.   On Friday, a large family contingent including 11 nieces and nephews arrived at court to celebrate Fraser’s appointment.  “They’re probably all shocked,” he said with a laugh. 
His 65-year-old sister, Joyce Taylor, who was visibly emotional about her brother’s accomplishment, interrupted: “We’re not shocked, we’re just proud.” “He has never, ever given up … he’s always, always pushed ahead. He’s done everything he wanted to do.” Taylor points to her brother’s passion for travel and hunting. “I like the taste of venison,” Fraser added with a laugh.  He said there is no limit to what you can accomplish, with or without a disability.  “The fact that your body isn’t working right doesn’t mean your mind can’t, and you can do just about anything,” he said.

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