HON. PAUL JOSEPH FRENCH
The Honourable Paul Joseph French passed away peacefully on Thursday, November 2, 2017, after a brief illness. He spent his final days in comfort at home in Toronto surrounded by his loving family. He will be deeply missed by his wife of 40 years M. Michele (Micki) Smith, his son Michael A. S. French, daughter Laura K. S. French, son-in-law Damir Dragicevic, and grandchildren Niko and Adrian Dragicevic, all of Toronto; brother John French (Molly Hartin), mother-in-law Olga Smith, sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law Mary-Lynn and Lyall Johnston, Dr. Thomas and Jennifer Smith, Christopher and Karen Smith, Dr. Mark and Cathie Smith, Dr. Patrick X. Smith and Shannon Fuhr, Charles and Brenda Smith, Geri and Dr. Ted Kubicki, Roberta and Phil Lori, Michael A. Smith, Daniel Smith, many cousins, nieces, nephews, friends and esteemed colleagues, all of whom he treasured.
Paul was born in Ottawa on Jan. 22, 1947 to Dr. John F. French and Frances M. French (née Maloney) of Eganville ON, with much of his youth spent between Ottawa and his beloved Lake Clear in the Ottawa Valley. He attended St. Pat’s College, Ottawa, and law school at the University of Ottawa where he made lifelong friends. After graduation he moved to Toronto to article for his mentor and uncle, the late Arthur Maloney Q.C., one of Canada’s leading criminal advocates. Upon his call to the Bar in 1984 he practiced briefly at Hughes Amys LLP, where he met Micki, then left to co-found his own firm, Stephens, French, McKeown. Years later he returned to Hughes Amys LLP, where he became managing partner, before his appointment to the Ontario Court of Justice. Paul was a Director of the Advocates’ Society and led its restructuring, Chair of the Sir William Campbell Foundation, President of the Thomas More Lawyers Guild of Toronto, and active in a number of community service organizations.
While in private practice Paul was counsel for the Ontario Provincial Judges Association during the 1990’s at a critical time in the court’s evolution, and succeeded in negotiating a “Framework Agreement” between the government (Ontario) and the judiciary, including negotiating its incorporation into legislation. This was a first in Canada, the Agreement later being recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada as significant to the independence of the judiciary. It was later adopted in other provinces. In 2006 he was delighted to be appointed a Judge of that same court, where he fought for and obtained much-needed mental health assistance for accused at Metro West. Paul was honoured to preside alongside his learned colleagues, and greatly appreciated and respected the crown counsel, staff and his many friends at Metro West.
Paul served the public with great distinction. He has been recognized by colleagues, friends, crown counsel and defence counsel alike as a gentleman of character and integrity, generous of spirit, learned in the law, who carried out his judicial duties with patience, impartiality and compassion. He had a particular concern for marginalized youth and those living with mental illness.
The family will receive friends at the HUMPHREY FUNERAL HOME, 1403 Bayview Avenue (south of Davisville Avenue) from 5:00 till 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 9th. A funeral mass will be held in BLESSED SACRAMENT CHURCH, 24 Cheritan Ave. at Yonge St. near Lawrence Ave., on Friday, November 10th at 2:00 p.m., followed by a reception. In lieu of flowers, please consider a charitable donation to “Maryvale-Stigma Enigma”. Condolences, photographs and memories may be forwarded through www.humphreymilesnewbigging.com.