My post discussing the efforts of appellate defense counsel to join the trial defense team in the retrial of United States v. McMurrin, and particularly the discussion in the comments, prompted me to recall my experiences attending training seminars as a Special Assistant US Attorney. During one seminar, at the National Advocacy Center in Columbia, SC, I experienced three days of intensive classroom instruction by AUSAs who were chosen for their knowledge, experience, and classroom demeanor, and flown-in to teach their particular subject. Each of these experts arrived on the day of their class, presented in impressive fashion, freely shared their contact information, and then returned to their districts and significant caseloads.
Thinking about that experience, I realize that in 5 years of active duty (a quarter-career!) I’ve experienced nothing in the military that even comes close. More often than not, military instructors read from old, inaccurate slides, are unfamiliar with the subject matter, and put the class to sleep. Senior officials or true subject-matter experts rarely appear, and if they do they usually give a brief “motivational speech” or “community update.” This is a generalization, but I can recall precious few impressive military instructors, and I suspect my experience is the norm.
Considering that as an armed force we train more than we do anything else, why as a legal community don’t we take it more seriously?