John’s trial and appellate work focuses on criminal defence and wrongful dismissal. However, he has a large and varied litigation practice, having successfully represented clients in every level of court in Saskatchewan and in applications at the Supreme Court of Canada.
John’s work in criminal defence has been recognized by Best Lawyers (Canada) since 2012.
In 2019 he was honoured with an invitation to become a Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America. He is a member of the Trial Law Institute and Diversity Law Institute.
As a legal author, John’s work has been published in the respected Canadian Bar Review and cited by the Supreme Court of Canada, among others. A listing of his publications and presentations can be obtained on request.
John is a tenacious advocate who always strives to get the best legal result possible for our clients.
Born and raised in Moose Jaw, John attended St. Thomas More College at the University of Saskatchewan, where he completed the Honours Program in Political Science before moving on to obtain his Law Degree.
He articled to the Chief Justice of Saskatchewan, the Honourable E.D. Bayda. Upon admission to the Bar in 1984 John entered private practice with a predecessor firm and became a founding partner of Gerrand Rath Johnson in 1997.
Outside of law, John has many interests, which include singing and performing with various music groups. He has co-written, produced and performed in several local musical revues raising funds for charitable causes.
John is President-Elect of the Saskatchewan Trial Lawyers Association (STLA), having served on the Board of Governors in a variety of capacities since 2009.
As Chair of the STLA Criminal Defence Litigation Group since its inception in 2010, John provides written commentary on Supreme Court decisions and other cases of interest.
He has served on the Board of the Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers (CCCDL) since 1992 and is presently a member of the Executive.
John’s involvement in the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) includes two terms as Chair of the CBA South Criminal Justice Section and five years as a member of its Provincial Council. He was a member of the National CBA Task Force on Reform of the Criminal Code and served on the National Legal Aid Liaison Committee for five years, the last two as Chair.
He has presented numerous papers at both provincial and national legal education seminars. A complete listing of John’s professional association work and his papers and presentations can be obtained on request.
John is listed as counsel or co-counsel in 70 publicly reported judgments, including 25 in the Court of Appeal for Saskatchewan. A complete list can be obtained on request but some significant cases of interest follow:
R v A.M., 2019 SKPC 46 – This was the first successful constitutional challenge in Canada to the “Ghomeshi Amendments” to the Criminal Code, with the court ruling the legislation placed unwarranted constraints on cross-examination and compromised the accused’s right to a fair trial.
R v JJ, (SCC 39133) - John is currently co-counsel for the Intervener CCCDL where the constitutionality of this same legislation will be argued in the Supreme Court of Canada in the fall of 2021.
T.M. v. Cott Beverages West Ltd. et al, 2001 SKQB 550; 215 Sask R 47;  4 WWR 28; 111 ACWS (3d) 172 - As counsel for the successful plaintiff who suffered an eye injury in opening a soft-drink bottle, John obtained the first award of punitive damages under our consumer products legislation for knowingly producing an unsafe product.
R. v. W.P., 2011 SKQB 256 expanded the Crown’s disclosure obligations to the accused by requiring the Crown to make reasonable inquiries of non-investigating police forces for relevant documents.
Montreal Trust Co. v. Williston Wildcatters Corp. et al, 2009 SKCA 85; 337 Sask R 95;  10 WWR 458; 179 ACWS (3d) 1073 –In this judgment, the Court of Appeal made an important ruling on the limits of a trial judge’s jurisdiction to give “directions” to the parties as to how to give effect to the judgments and set aside the directions given.
Montreal Trust Co. v. Williston Wildcatters Corp. et al, 2004 SKCA 116; 243 DLR (4th) 317; 254 Sask R 38;  4 WWR 20 - The Court dismissed the Plaintiff’s appeal against the use of a “royalty” measure of damages but allowed our clients’ cross-appeal finding the trial judge erred in failing to apply the doctrine of “leave and licence” to reduce the period of trespass from 12 years to 9 months.
R. v. A.M.,  SJ No 148; 1999 CarswellSask 96; 41 WCB (2d) 409, (PC) was the first reported Saskatchewan case to hold that the failure of the Crown to take steps to preserve police station security videotapes prejudiced the accused's right to full answer and defence requiring a Charter stay of drinking and driving charges.
Areas of Practice:
Criminal Law/Charter of RIghts
Employment Law (Wrongful Dismissal)