News release

Term for Desmond Inquiry Judge Ends, New Judge Requested to Complete Report

Attorney General and Justice Minister Brad Johns has requested that the Chief Judge of the provincial court assign a new judge to finish the work started by Desmond Inquiry Judge Warren Zimmer, whose term ended Friday, June 30.

The request is being made under Section 38 of the Fatality Investigations Act, which allows for the chief judge to appoint a new judge when the presiding judge retires or is no longer able to complete the inquiry. Four separate extensions have been made over the last 18 months to extend his term in office and allow him time to complete his report. The final extension expired on June 30.

“Judge Zimmer’s term has come to an end. I wish him well in his retirement,” said Minister Johns. “The family and loved ones of the Desmond family, their community, as well as all Nova Scotians, have been waiting more than five years for answers. I have requested that the Chief Judge of the provincial court appoint another judge to step in and complete the report in a timely manner.”

Judge Zimmer is a retired part-time judge, and he was appointed in July 2018 to preside over the fatality inquiry into the tragic deaths of Lionel Desmond and members of his family in January 2017.

Quick Facts:

  • Afghanistan war veteran Lionel Desmond killed his mother, wife, daughter and himself in Upper Big Tracadie on January 3, 2017
  • a fatality inquiry was ordered on February 14, 2018
  • formal hearings began in May 2019 and concluded on April 22, 2022

Additional Resources:

Desmond Fatality Inquiry website:

Fatality Investigations Act: