Episode 12

Episode 11: Justice Keith Bracken (Ret.)

Published on: 29th June, 2022

Keith Bracken joined the RCMP in 1963 at the age of 18. He served in uniform for 9 years before going to university and earning a law degree in 1976. He was appointed a judge of the Provincial Court of British Columbia in 1991 and in 2007 was elevated to the Supreme Court of British Columbia where he sat until his retirement in 2018.

Judge Bracken is a rare individual who can speak from experience about life on the beat, at the bar, and on the bench.

Speaking with Keith about the life of a Mountie in the 1960s and early 1970s is nothing short of amazing - for better or worse it was a very different landscape back then. His training, his responsibilities as a member, and the nature and risk profile of the work back then is very different than it is now.

As he transitioned to other aspects of law enforcement (first as counsel, and later as a judge and justice) it is apparent he never lost the common touch.

Keith's daughter, also a member of the RCMP, is currently serving as an instructor at Depot.

Show notes:

  • 4:02 - All mounties learned horseback riding in early 1960s
  • 6:40 - RCMP application process took 11 months
  • 7:08 - A day in the life of a cadet in the 1960s
  • 11:30 - Mounties could be fired, but couldn’t quit unless they purchased their discharge
  • 16:10 - Transition out of RCMP
  • 19:00 - purchased discharge from RCMP to go to University of Sask
  • 21:00 - Mounties in this era prosecuted many of their own cases - including drunk driving and assault
  • 25:45 - Graduates law school and obtains articles in Victoria. Called to bar in 1977.
  • 27:25 - Pathway to provincial judgeship
  • 30:34 - Anyone teach you how to be a judge? (not really)
  • 39:15 - Cases involving children the hardest to decide
  • 43:10 - Experience as a police officer useful experience as a judge
  • 45:20 - Elevation to BC Supreme Court
  • 47:15 - Difference between BCPC and BCSC
  • 48:40 - Faith in the jury system
  • 50:59 - A day in the life of a BCSC justice
  • 59:40 - BC Courtroom procedure - forms of address, communications with bench, dress and decorum
  • 1:02:34 - Barristers meeting with judges in their chambers?
  • 1:09 - Final reflections on rural policing

Under Reserve thanks Justice (Constable) Bracken for his time, and his service,

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About the Podcast

Under Reserve
Life on the bench, at the bar, and on the beat.
Under Reserve is a show about law and law enforcement. Vancouver lawyer Dan Coles sits down with the individuals who shape and enforce the law domestically and abroad. From judges and lawyers, to police officers, politicians and soldiers - Under Reserve explores the stories behind extraordinary people who took an oath of service and who uphold the rule of law.

Learn more at www.underreserve.ca or Instragram @underreservepodcast

About your host

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Dan Coles

I am a trial lawyer and partner at mid-sized law firm in downtown Vancouver, B.C.

I am an advocate for freedom of the press and other media. I regularly appear in court as counsel for national and international news organizations. I assist journalists in obtaining access to court exhibits and I oppose publication bans, sealing orders, and in camera court proceedings. I obtain and resist injunctions.