Junior Counsel Assisting: Melinda Richards (Or: Chief Assistant to the Assistant Chief)

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Image source: http://www.vicbar.com.au/profile?3057

Impressive human rights lawyer, Melinda Richards (pictured above) has been appointed under Counsel Assisting, Gail “Snow White” Furness, as junior counsel assisting. While there are concerns about Ms. Furness’ appointment, things have been made up for somewhat with Ms. Richards’ appointment. Hopefully, should for some reason or other Ms. Furness withdraws, Ms. Richards will become Assistant Chief in her stead. One can only hope.

Endorsement from this site may cause her some problems, especially with the Catholic Church’s PR unit, containing as it does some vehement anti-atheists. Please forgive!

Ms Richards showed her commitment in two major cases. Firstly, there was the action by the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples to make an application to be heard as an “amicus curiae” providing information to support the High Court in the Maloney v The Queen case. The Human Rights Law Centre was assisting the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples on a pro bono basis ( i.e., fee- free), together with barristers Ron Merkel QC, Debbie Mortimer SC, Melinda Richards and Sarala Fitzgerald and leading international law firm Allens.

In another case, run by the Victorian Humanist Society against the Victorian Education Department before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, Ms. Richards appeared, apparently on a pro bono basis. Ms Richards said Victoria’s laws prevented discrimination on the grounds of religious belief and although parents could refuse Religious Instruction on behalf of their children it forced them to make a choice they should not have to make.

“Not believing in God is a religious belief…. certainly in law,” Ms Richards told Judge Tim Ginnane. Ms Richards was appearing for three families who have taken their discrimination case against the education department to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Summing up the case she said children who did not attend Christian religious instruction were treated differently from their classmates, which was wrong in multi-cultural, multi-faith government schools. The law stated that discrimination occurred when people in a group were treated differently from others in that group. Ms. Richards said the school curriculum was “crowded” and Religious Instruction took valuable time from normal classroom teaching.

Ms Richards was junior counsel assisting the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission in 2009 and 2010, and in 2011 was counsel assisting the Rush inquiry into the senior command structure of Victoria Police. Her CV indicates her fields as being Industrial & Employment, Equal Opportunity & Discrimination. She has had a particular focus on freedom of information, which is the vital component of a good Royal Commission.

Unfortunately for Ms. Richards, she will attract a lot of attention from the Catholic Church PR unit, especially since they might think she has an unhealthy sympathy for those horrible atheistic people. Presumably, she will have her supporters who will help defend her from such an attack. Best wishes, Ms. Richards.

[Postscript: Is this a new (farcical) trend? A group of Franciscan friars furious at the theft of bibles from their church have taken the unusual step of praying for the thief to be struck down by diarrhoea.]

Read more here:

TOMORROW: The Eleventh Commandment

That’s all I can say

Lewis Blayse (né Lewin Blazevich)

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