2014 Excellence in Law Award – Justice Kofi N. Barnes


Justice Kofi Barnes

The Oxford Dictionary defines justice as, “the quality of being fair and reasonable.” This characterization is the personification of the Honourable Mr. Justice Kofi N. Barnes.

Called to the Bar in 1993, the Ghanaian native who at age 39 became one of the country’s youngest judges was Canada’s 25th African Canadian to ascend to the Bench.

An attitude of excellence has ushered justice Barnes into the hallowed halls of the province’s highest court. Nine years almost to the day after Kofi N. Barnes was appointed as a Judge of the Ontario Court of Justice on February 9, 2004, he was appointed a Judge of the Ontario Superior Court, on February 8, 2013.

Justice Barnes has particular expertise in integrating legal case processing with therapeutic approaches to address antisocial or criminal behaviour, where such behaviour is due to underlying causes such as mental illness, alcohol or drug abuse.

As a pioneer and innovator in the introduction of these principles into the courtroom, he is considered an expert in the area of therapeutic jurisprudence.

Justice Barnes established the Durham Drug Treatment and Mental Health Court in November 2006, and in June 2011, he established the Youth Community Restoration Court at the 2201 Finch Avenue West Courthouse in Toronto.

In addition to his regular judicial duties, he provides extensive advice on the subject to judges, lawyers and substance abuse treatment providers in Canada and internationally.

Justice Barnes has developed several national and international training programs to impart problem solving court skills to legal and non-legal practitioners. These include the National Drug Treatment Court Training Program and Problem Solving Court Skills Workshop.

He is founding President of the Canadian Association of Drug Treatment Court Professionals (CADTCP) and also President of the International Association of Drug Treatment Courts (IADTC).

The Honourable Mr. Justice Kofi N. Barnes is involved in an extensive number of community activities with special emphasis on the root causes of antisocial and criminal behaviour.

He is a recipient of many community and professional awards, including a Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Commemorative Medal in 2003.

A graduate of Trent University and Osgoode Hall, Barnes is a member of the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers, the United States Association of Drug Court Professionals and the International Association of Drug Court Professionals.