The Secretary of the Navy has approved the selection of Captain Daniel E. O’Toole, the current NMCCA chief judge, as the first Assistant Judge Advocate General (Chief Judge of the Navy).

The Navy JAG Corps explains:

Captain O’Toole will be the first AJAG (Chief Judge of the Navy), a position approved by the Secretary of the Navy in December 2007. This position, which we sought to establish as part of JAG Corps 2020, will be the capstone billet of the Military Justice Litigation Career Track.  Captain O’Toole’s knowledge and experience will serve our Corps well in the years ahead as we continue to focus on improving our capabilities in all areas related to military justice.

With this selection, Captain O’Toole becomes eligible for detail by the Secretary of the Navy as the statutory Assistant Judge Advocate  General of the Navy. We anticipate that, for all Navy AJAGs selected by board procedures, such detail will normally take place during their third year of service in their respective AJAG positions and qualify them for retirement in pay grade O-7 as determined by the Secretary of the Navy.

Congratulations, Chief Judge O’Toole!

I don’t know whether Chief Judge O’Toole will continue to sit with NMCCA in his new position.  If anyone knows the answer to that question, please share it with us.

7 Responses to “Chief Judge O’Toole of NMCCA named first Chief Judge of the Navy”

  1. Norbert Basil MacLean III says:

    Since the Navy has created this new chief judge position it should also give its trial and appellate judges terms of office like the Army does rather than serving at the pleasure of the JAG. Does anyone know whether that came up in discussion as part of of the JAC Corps 2020 and the military justice litigation career track?

  2. Anonymous says:

    So, the military case load drops precipitously, and the military decides to raise the chief judge’s grade. Case deflation, grade inflation makes absolutely no sense. What a country!!!

  3. MJW1 says:

    Despite the current drop in DoN numbers, the creation of this billet was long overdue and emphasizes the DoN’s committment to improving the practice of military justice.

  4. Bridget says:

    It is a good thing to see the military courts slowly, at a glacial pace, moving to create the kinds of administrative structures that make courts work better. I have always been stunned how little administrative support there is for the trial courts. Things like docketing clerks, law and motion judges, or maybe, just maybe a standing court seem reasonable to make the courts efficient.

    The military trial courts seem burdened with the myth of non-lawyer and non-judicial adjudication of crimes, something not seen in a long time. I still run into vets in San Diego, somewhat older than I, who tell their story of being pulled from their [non-legal] admin billet to be defense counsel for a sailor. But, really in this day we actually have telephones and computers, and yes, even airplanes to transport witnesses and counsel. The “drum head” court-martial is not a reality today, although the military courts are still structured as if they were.

    It might help to not have the judges doing clerical work. It might help to have a standing court, or at a minimum an ex parte/law and motion department. In fact it might actually improve the quality of military justice.

  5. JAC says:

    What does this mean for the USMC? Will they stop rotating the Chief Judge position between Navy and Marine Corps?

  6. Anonymous says:

    the usmc has the ajag for mil jus billet – that’s all they get – see oliver twist below:

    ‘Please, sir, I want some more.’

    The master was a fat, healthy man; but he turned very pale. He gazed in stupified astonishment on the small rebel for some seconds, and then clung for support to the copper. The assistants were paralysed with wonder; the boys with fear.

    ‘What!’ said the master at length, in a faint voice.

    ‘Please, sir,’ replied Oliver, ‘I want some more.’

    The master aimed a blow at Oliver’s head with the ladle; pinioned him in his arm; and shrieked aloud for the beadle.

    The board were sitting in solemn conclave, when Mr. Bumble rushed into the room in great excitement, and addressing the gentleman in the high chair, said,

    ‘Mr. Limbkins, I beg your pardon, sir! Oliver Twist has asked for more!’

    There was a general start. Horror was depicted on every countenance.

    ‘For MORE!’ said Mr. Limbkins. ‘Compose yourself, Bumble, and answer me distinctly. Do I understand that he asked for more, after he had eaten the supper allotted by the dietary?’

    ‘He did, sir,’ replied Bumble.

    ‘That boy will be hung,’ said the gentleman in the white waistcoat. ‘I know that boy will be hung.’

    Nobody controverted the prophetic gentleman’s opinion.

  7. Anon says:

    This announcement raises more questions for me than it answers:

    1. What, exactly, will the Chief Judge of the Navy do?

    2. Will he do any actual judging? If so, on what court?

    3. Will there continue to be a Chief Judge of the Trial Judiciary? If so, what will the Chief Judge of the Navy do that the Chief Judge of the Trial Judiciary could not?

    4. Same question as above, but WRT the AJAG for MILJUS.

    5. Why is the title not Chief Judge of the Navy and Marine Corps?

    It sounds to me like we’ve added a new flag billet to make our military justice folks feel like they have some career goal to work toward (apparently a seat on NMCCA wasn’t a good enough “capstone” job and they’re not in contention for Judge Advocate General), but unless this billet replaces the Chief Judge of the Trial Judiciary and the AJAG for Military Justice, I’m not sure we’ve done anything more than add another level of bureaucracy. To what effect?