THE ADVOCATE 117
VOL. 76 PART 1 JANUARY 2018
One of the defining moments in high school came when Catherine was
taken to a hairdresser with unruly frizzy long hair but emerged with shoulder
length layered and coiffed hair with bangs. According to Catherine, this
haircut changed her social life forever. To this day she wears her hair the
After high school Catherine entered the UBC commerce program, thinking
she needed a decent degree if she did not make it into law school. She
subsidized her education by working at Woodward’s, in the shoe department,
where she roller-skated (badly) from client to stock room and back,
fitting people with shoes.
Although no one in her immediate or extended family was a lawyer,
Catherine knew she wanted to be a lawyer, and a criminal lawyer at that. In
her third year of commerce she applied to UBC law school. However, when
she was not accepted, she decided to travel to California and experience the
world outside West Vancouver.
During her first week in California Catherine received a call from her
mother telling her that she had in fact been accepted to law school and that
she needed to return home quickly as the first term had already
started. Apparently, someone who had been enrolled did not show up, so
Catherine got that spot!
During law school Catherine worked four nights a week as a bartender
and cocktail waitress at the Granville Island Keg. It was there that she
honed her ability to relate to people, a skill that has stood her in good stead
her whole life, particularly as a trial lawyer. Catherine understands and
loves people, notwithstanding their frailties.
Catherine articled with Rick Peck and characterizes this experience, in
her own inimitable way, as “the best articles ever!” (a sentiment everyone
shares). From there she joined the Crown in 1987, starting in Vancouver. In
the late 1980s she met Dennis Murray, the Assistant Deputy Attorney General
at the time. She moved to Victoria when she and Dennis married. In
1992 their son, Kelly, was born. Their daughter, Julia, followed in
1994. When her children were young, Catherine worked part-time, but she
could not stay away from the courtroom for very long.
In 2004 Catherine prosecuted Kelly Ellard for the swarming and beating
death of Reena Virk. The case attracted substantial media scrutiny. Catherine
was no stranger to publicity, but the publicity surrounding the Reena
Virk murder was different. Catherine handled it all with aplomb.
Another Kelly Ellard trial followed in 2005 after the jury was hung. In
2009 the Supreme Court of Canada upheld Ms. Ellard’s conviction for second
degree murder. In the interim Catherine prosecuted other murder
cases, involving gang members on Vancouver Island.