There wasn’t a “this is all off the record” statement so I’ll share with you some thoughts about today’s CAAF Conference generally and the presenters comments. 

At least one other attendee and I were both rather surprised at the relative absence of the service appellate shops from the conference.  Considering the line up at the CAAF Conference, that was surprising.  While The Honorable Jeh Johnson and Togo West were not speaking on how to have your petition accepted by the CAAF judges, there talks were relevant and topical for judge advocate and, generally, military lawyer professional development.  Further, I thought the talk by CAPT Crawford (Legal Counsel to the CJCS) that focused on detainee and similar issues was very thoughtful and something that, at a minimum,  judge advocates involved in the military commission process would find helpful.   Two of the five other speakers today were wheelhouse speakers for military law litigators, Judge McAuliffe on persuasive advocacy and Professor Donohue on the State Secrets Doctrine. 

As for the actual presentations, the best line of the day came from Mr. Johnson who said that leading by example in a nation of laws meant playing by the rules when the going is easy and when it is hard.   I had to chuckle though when Mr. Johnson alluded to the tanker competition as another one of the issues on his plate, in light of recent developments

If I have more time later I’ll update this with more from the first half of the day.  Maybe Mizer can give you an update on the second half of the day ;-)

16 Responses to “Blogging from the CAAF Conference”

  1. rules says:

    Ain’t no law that says a man has to wear pants.

  2. Phil Cave says:

    They may not be, but for the price some of us get our annual CLE credit with the bar. Compared to $750.00 plus a year in VA for 12 credits — well, it’s an overhead issue.
    I will say that I didn’t find much relevant or of use in the afternoon session.

  3. Anon says:

    Last speaker was horrible. I think she literally read her law review article verbatim.

  4. Anonymous says:

    That was a pretty bad first day. I’m not sure how much a criminal appellate attorney gets out of that day. It seemed geared more to the judges and the more senior folks in the room than the O-3 and O-4 litigators.

    Other than the five minutes shoehorned into the judge’s string of entertaining stories, there was really no criminal law discussed today, or really a lot of advocacy tips for that matter.

    I’m certainly willing to take a break from my case load to learn new things from wise people on criminal law, but that’s not what happened today. Very disappointing.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The Court asks for recommendations for the program. If you gave none, do not complain.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Well, that kind of logic only goes so far.

    If they had classes on tap-dancing and souffle baking I couldn’t complain then either?

    It’s not unfair to expect that the conference will at a minimum have more than one of it’s speakers address criminal law or advocacy.

    The one speaker who specifically had that as his speech, while highly entertaining, talked about actual advocacy pointers the last few minutes of his time up there.

    I’m just a lowly appellate attorney, my recommendation would be “criminal law and advocacy stuff.”

  7. 'Press Badge' says:

    Maybe you should let them know ahead of time that you’ll be there, then at least they will know beforehand that it’s “on the record.”

  8. Anonymous says:

    not to defend CAAF, however, if the presenters simply rehashed the term’s opinions you would get equal complaints about redundancy of the speakers. I do think new appellate counsel lack a historical understanding of the Code. Maybe NIMJ – who instead seem to focus their resources on more media-friendly issues (see detainee litigation) – could offer a friendly hand. Before you going bashing my post for being anonymous, please make sure you have on hand the amount of money NIMJ spent on detainee litigation versus let’s say something a little more pedestrian – Sixth amendment cases.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Dude, seriously. First rule of this blog: You are NOT allowed to criticize NIMJ or its President.

  10. Gene Fidell says:

    1452/1628 — you folks work this out, but if anyone has suggestions for programs that NIMJ should undertake or amicus briefs that should be filed (supporting the government, the defense, or neither), please email us at

  11. Mike "No Man" Navarre says:

    Anon 1628: way off my friend. Not allowed to criticize contributors. If you notice the esteemed Mr. Fidell has dropped off our contributor list. Thus, open season on Mr. Fidell, his agents, and assigns–but not his spouse, we still really like her reporting

  12. Gene Fidell says:

    No Man, you left off my heirs and devisees! What are they, chopped liver?

  13. Jason Grover says:

    I have been working to hard, I hadn’t even noticed Mr. Fidell leaving us. Was it something I said? Or was it No Man?

  14. Gene Fidell says:

    Jason, “hadn’t even noticed”? Oh, how sharper than a serpent’s tooth!

  15. Jason Grover says:

    If it makes you feel better, just today I was singing the praises of your CAAF Practice Guide!

  16. Gene Fidell says:

    Bless you.