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Jan Advocate 2017

THE ADVOCATE V O L . 7 5 P A R T 1 J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 7 105 “this happy blend of scholarship and pragmatism, advanced convincingly, concisely and persuasively, was a hallmark of his work. He was fearlessly honest in his approach to all matters, consistently demonstrated grace under pressure of competing priorities and had banked much credibility with his client base and his military legal peers and superiors.” Mel also did an admirable job prosecuting at courts martial including his well-regarded work in the highly publicized, complex and sensitive case of the ex-private who had deserted to East Germany during the Cold War era. In 1980 Mel was promoted to the rank of major and in 1984 to lieutenantcolonel as the director of Law International. In 1985 Mel was promoted to the position of assistant to the Judge Advocate General Pacific Region in Victoria at CFB Esquimalt. In 1987, faced with the possibility of a posting in Ottawa, Mel chose to retire from the military and enter private practice in Victoria—much to the chagrin of the adjutant general. Visions of Mel’s professional life after entering private practice in Victoria in 1987 begin with a devotion to work evidenced by the hours he worked and his love of the ins and outs of conducting trials and courts martial. His first of several appearances in the Supreme Court of Canada was with Jeff Green on a trafficking case in 1979. Very accomplished in criminal law, he was also the “go-to guy” in military legal matters, in which field he was accepted as an expert in the Supreme Court. While Mel also enjoyed success in a broad range of civil litigation, his heart in most cases lay with representing someone who had suffered from an abuse of authority or lack of due process—the underdog. Professionally, Mel was applauded by his colleagues and associates as a fine teacher, thoughtful and considerate of those working with him. He was noted to have treated female lawyers (whether those he worked with or against) with respect, both in their professional capacities and personally, which at the time (as Commander Sheila Archer noted) “was not the mainstream perspective”. Senior Crown counsel Pinder Cheema, who met Mel in the early 1990s, commented on Mel treating her with respect in their dealings as well as his ability to balance his relationship with an adversarial Crown and his duty to his client. Mel was known as a forceful and fearless advocate for his clients— resourceful, resilient, tough minded and smart. Mr. Justice Robert Johnson, in a memorial sitting of the court in Victoria, commented that “I had a few trials against Mel as a lawyer, and each time I came out of the trial thinking that I had a very worthy opponent and an opponent that had been a treat to oppose … Mel was capable of taking on a tough case. He was not easily pushed, and he was always firm, but civil. This is to me one of the essences


Jan Advocate 2017
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