Lawyer, Victoria Legal Aid
Jessica Ritcher completed a bachelor of arts and law in 2006. Following this she worked for a period at the Victorian native title representative body, Native Title Services, and then completed articles at a private law firm with a legal aid practice. She worked there for a year after getting admitted to practice, then came to legal aid in 2009. She has now worked at VLA as a lawyer for almost three years.
She is a duty lawyer in the Assessment and Referral Court (ARC) list, a role she has been in now for over a year. The ARC list is a pilot program within the Melbourne Magistrates’ court for dealing with criminal cases where the clients have an intellectual disability, acquired brain injury, mental illness, autism spectrum disorder or neurological impairment including but not limited to dementia. The court sits in an informal and flexible manner and sits two days per week at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court and one of her primary duties is to attend court and appear for clients on these days.
A significant proportion of defendants who are included in the ARC list have an intellectual disability or acquired brain injury. Jessica is the criminal law section’s “client group expert” for clients with intellectual disabilities. This means that as well as working primarily as a legal representative for clients who have disabilities, she has developed specialist knowledge and relationships around this client group and the disability sector so that she can be a resource for other practitioners who act for clients with an intellectual disability.
Criminal justice system and people with disability
Tuesday 27th March, 2012: 3:00am - 4:00am
In spite of law reform efforts to strengthen the rights of victims of crime who have a cognitive impairment, there are still significant barriers in prosecuting these cases.