Hon. Samuel Sereth Lieberman CD, QC, LLD (hon)
Judge Samuel Lieberman is known for his impressive military and judicial careers, as well as his considerable contributions to his community. A coastal command pilot during World War II, he began his legal career upon his return to Alberta from active service. After spending several years as a successful lawyer, he eventually became the first judge of the Jewish faith in the province. Judge Lieberman can be credited with creating ground-breaking changes to certain aspects of the legal process in Alberta which were adopted across Canada. Outside of his contributions to the legal system, Judge Lieberman has volunteered his energy and talents to numerous organizations in order to better his community, province and country.
Samuel (Sam) Lieberman was born in Edmonton on April 14, 1922. In 1940, at the age of 18, he left university and joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. He served as a pilot in R.A.F. coastal command for two overseas operational tours between 1941 and 1945 and attained the rank of Squadron Leader. With no leave available between tours, Judge Lieberman had not seen his family during his four years of service abroad. His desire to return home, and the encouragement of British friends to leave the military, return to Canada and attend university, led Judge Lieberman to return to his native Alberta in 1945. Subsequently, he received his BA in 1947 and his LLB in 1948 from the University of Alberta.
It was while attending a service club convention in Winnipeg in 1949 that Judge Lieberman met his future wife, a student at UCLA and native of Chicago. After a long-distance telephone courtship and several short visits, Judge Lieberman married Nancy Berman on July 15, 1950. The couple settled in Edmonton where their family grew to include three children: David Jonathan, Jo Ann and Audrey Gail.
Judge Lieberman has made significant contributions to the Canadian legal system, both as a lawyer and a jurist. Following his graduation from law school in 1948, he articled with his father’s law firm and was admitted to the Bar of Alberta one year later. In 1962, he was appointed Queen’s Counsel.
Judge Lieberman continued to practice with his father’s firm, specializing in insurance law, until 1966 when he was appointed Judge of the District Court of the District of Northern Alberta. Four years later, he was appointed Justice of the Trial Division of the Supreme Court of Alberta (now the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta). He thus had the dual distinction of becoming both Alberta’s first judge of the Jewish faith and the first Jewish judge to be named to the Supreme Court of the province. In 1967, he was appointed to the Court of Appeal of Alberta where he remained until his mandatory retirement in 1997.
“They must always bear in mind that in their privileged positions, service to the public is paramount.”
-Judge Lieberman’s advice to young lawyers
Judge Lieberman has certainly left his mark on his chosen profession. In 1967, under the aegis of the Attorney General of Alberta, he established the Alberta Board of Review to deal with those persons who were found not fit to stand trial, or who were found not guilty of a crime by reason of insanity. It was the first such board in Canada to be set up under the provisions of the Criminal Code, and became the prototype for other similar boards across the country. In addition, Judge Lieberman chaired the committee presenting the first proposal for Legal Aid to the Alberta Legislature. He became the first Chair of the Legal Aid Society of Alberta which facilitates equality of access to the legal system for all Albertans. In 1970, he chaired the Alberta Boundaries Commission and in 1998 he was appointed Chair of the Alberta Bingo Review Commission.
After his retirement, Judge Lieberman continued to assist the community by chairing the Alberta Criminal Injuries Review Board. He also joined a major law firm, Miller Thomson, where he has been a respected counsel, providing advice to the firm’s young lawyers.
Judge Lieberman has given freely of his time, energy and commitment to a variety of organizations, among them B’nai Brith, the Edmonton Eskimos Football Club, the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews and the Kiwanis Club.
In addition, Judge Lieberman has also served as president or director of numerous boards and organizations, including the Sir Winston Churchill Society of Edmonton and the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. He has been named an Honourary life member of the Israeli Institute of Technology and Honourary Director of Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame.
From 1952 to 1956, Judge Lieberman served as aide-de-camp to the late Lieutenant Governor J.J. Bowlen. He also served as Chair of the Council of the Alberta Order of Excellence between 1997 and 2003.
Judge Lieberman has received numerous awards and recognition for his commitment and dedication to his province and country. For his military efforts, he was awarded Canadian Forces Decoration. He has also been awarded the Centennial Medal, the Jubilee Medal, the 125th Anniversary Medal, the Queen’s Jubilee Medal and the Alberta Centennial Medal. In 1990, he was awarded an Honourary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Alberta.
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