Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Alan D. Macleod enjoyed a diverse judicial career that saw him preside over trials on a variety of legal issues over his more than 16 years on the Bench and led to widespread praise for his sound and compassionate judgments.
Justice Macleod retired on January 13, 2022, after reaching his 75th birthday. The well-respected Calgary-based judge was appointed on November 22, 2005.
“Justice Macleod had a stellar judicial career marked with courage and compassion and carefully crafted judgments,” says Court of Queen’s Bench Chief Justice Mary Moreau. “He always approached his cases with a generous dose of common sense and will be missed by the Bench and Bar alike.”
Indeed, a Tweet on the @QB_Alberta Twitter feed announcing Justice Macleod’s retirement attracted many likes and reTweets as well as personal comments including “a fine judge and a decent man” and “a compassionate Justice and a huge asset to the administration of justice who will be very much missed.”
Justice Macleod earned his LL.B. from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1970 after earlier graduating with a B.A. from Dalhousie in 1967. He earned an LL.M. from the University of London in the U.K. in 1975.
He articled at Macleod Dixon in Calgary and practiced there from 1970 until he was appointed to the Bench, except for a sabbatical for his year at the University of London.
During his nearly 35-year career as a civil litigator, Justice Macleod began by practising insurance law and administrative law and then branched into more commercial and oil and gas litigation. In his last 10 years at Macleod Dixon, which is now part of Norton Rose Fulbright, he acted for the federal Crown in a major piece of litigation in which the Crown was alleged to have mishandled money belonging to four Alberta Indigenous bands. He also acted as counsel in cases resolved through mediation or arbitration.
He received his Q.C. designation in January 1994 and was admitted as a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers in 2002. In 2003, he was named the Milvain Chair in Advocacy at the University of Calgary Faculty of Law in recognition of his contributions in the field of civil litigation. He was a Bencher of the Law Society of Alberta and served as its President in 2000. From 1999 to 2014 he served on the Board of the Alberta Law Reform Institute.
Justice Macleod became a supernumerary judge in 2017, but continued to preside over numerous trials, including some high-profile cases.
He says he was initially unsure about retirement.
“I was apprehensive because I have worked my whole life, but I am warming to the idea,” he says.
“I will miss sitting in Court. I loved the work and I believe it is important. I will also miss my colleagues and staff.”
During his time on the Bench, he sat on proceedings in diverse areas including murder and lesser crimes, commercial, corporate oppression, family, contract, personal injury, patent infringement, and oil and gas. And while he doesn’t recall the names of all the litigants, he really enjoyed hearing the variety of cases and delving into the different types of law.
“Several cases were very complex and whenever I released a decision which required heavy lifting, so to speak, I felt as though I contributed something significant,” he says. “And if it came back to me that some parties or their lawyers or another judge thought highly of the decision, that was always a good moment.”
Justice Macleod feels fortunate to have had so many interesting cases but says the one he will never forget was a first-degree murder trial he conducted with a jury.
“It was a most bizarre fact situation where three accused persons were convicted of premeditated murder. It was a gruesome and cold-blooded murder and while the motive was obvious from the evidence, most would say it was no motive at all,” he says. “It was compelling and at the same time tragic.”
So, what is next for the esteemed jurist?
“I don't know yet. It's brand new,” says Justice Macleod. “If the rules permit, my mate and I are heading south for a month. Otherwise, we'll take it one step at a time. I may do a bit of mediation or arbitration.”
We wish him well wherever his travels take him!