ONCE again, a Filipino has made his country proud by gaining honor and prestige in the international arena.
On April 29, 2013, Canada’s Department of Justice has announced the historic appointment of the first Filipino-Canadian into the Supreme Court of Justice of Ontario, Honorable Justice Steve Anthony Banate Coroza.
Justice Coroza will be the superior court judge of the Central West Region of the Ontario Court of Justice in Brampton, replacing Madam Justice N. M. Mossip (who chose to become a supernumerary/part-time judge), beginning July 8, 2013.
In Canada, the Supreme Court consists of the Chief Justice of Canada and eight Judges appointed by the Governor in Council from among provincial superior court judges — making up a total of nine justices.
Traditionally, the federal government appoints three judges from Quebec, three from Ontario, two from the West, and one from Atlantic Canada.
As a member of the Superior Court of Justice in Ontario, Justice Coroza is now in a position to make it to Canada’s Supreme Court in the future.
Education and career
The young judge previously worked with the Ontario Court of Justice in St. Catharines, Ontario since 2009.
With his new appointment, Justice Coroza achieves the highest position attained by a Filipino-Canadian in the Canadian judiciary.
In a news report on atinitonews.com, Justice Coroza reportedly also gained the distinction of becoming the first Filipino-Canadian judge of a provincial court, with his appointment to the Ontario Court of Justice on Dec 1, 2009.
Only 39 years old at that time, he was sworn in on January 15, 2010 and presided at St. Catharines, Ontario.
During his younger years, Coroza worked hard to achieve academic excellence.
In school, he always excelled in academics and sports. He finished his high school in St. Thomas Aquinas and then graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from York University. He obtained his Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Windsor Law School in 1995.
He was admitted to the Bar of Ontario in 1997 and completed a Master of Laws degree at Osgoode Hall Law School in 2003.
As a young lawyer, Coroza began his career as a staff duty counsel for the Ontario Legal Aid in Toronto where he practiced criminal law until 1998.
From 1999- 2009, he served as a Federal Crown Attorney with the Department of Justice and senior counsel with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada. Justice Coroza appeared as counsel on behalf of the federal government in criminal prosecutions at all levels of court including the Ontario Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada.
Besides serving as a prosecutor for the government, Justice Coroza is also a dedicated educator.
He served as an instructor for the Bar Admission Course (2001-2009), a part-time instructor at Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology (2004-2007), a guest instructor with the University of Notre Dame Trial Advocacy Program, and an instructor of the Trial Practice Course and Trial Advocacy Workshop at Osgoode Hall Law School where he is currently an adjunct professor.
He is also the co-author of a publication entitled: Sentencing Drug Offenders, with Honourable Simon Armstrong of the Ontario Court Justice, Adam Boni and Andrew Sabbadini.
Wanting to make a meaningful difference in the community, Justice Coroza has been volunteering his services through the years. He was a distinguished member of the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers where he was valued as a mentor and instructor to many young lawyers. Coroza also served as treasurer of the Mississauga Community Legal Services Clinic as well as on the board of directors of the Alzheimer Society of Peel Region.
Family and personal life
Justice Coroza was born in Belleville, Ontario and raised in Toronto.
His Filipino parents are Lota Banate Coroza (a native of Roxas City, Capiz) and Romy Mabilangan Coroza of Santo Tomas, Batangas.
He is married to Mary Perlas with whom he has three children.
In a press release from the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs, Philippine Ambassador to Canada Leslie B. Gatan says of Justice’s Coroza’s appointment:
“I join Filipino communities across Canada in celebrating Justice Coroza’s latest achievement. His elevation to a prominent position in the Canadian judiciary sharpens the visibility of Filipinos in Canada’s multicultural society and should inspire younger generations of Filipino-Canadians to aim for excellence in all their endeavors.”
Strong ties with the Filipino-Canadian community
Proudly Filipino, Coroza has strong ties with the Filipino-Canadian community in Ontario. Two years ago, during the Gala Night of the Capizeno Association of Ontario in Mississauga, Ontario, Coroza noted what he believes are important areas to focus on. According to a story by Ace Alvarez of the Manila Media Monitor, Justice Coroza underscored the need to push the youth towards academic excellence and to actively contribute to race relations.
Coroza stressed that parents, grandparents and extended relatives – who are the first teachers of their respective wards- must set high expectations from them and push them towards academic excellence.
One of his commitments is to help the youth and new young immigrants. This is why he volunteers at the Ontario Justice Education Network (OJEN) to educate the youth about Canada’s justice system. Reportedly one of OJEN’s most committed volunteers who has helped thousands of young people in its justice-education programs, Justice Coroza finds great fulfillment in being able to give back to the community, by helping mold and mentor the next generation.
(LA Weekend May 25-28, 2013 Sec. A pg.10)