The Silver CAAF Tongue Award, while lacking physical manifestation, is a life-changing honor bestowed upon the counsel who argued the most cases at CAAF during the term.

The 2013 Term winner is Major Daniel Breen of the Air Force Appellate Government division, who argued four cases (Elespuru, Janssen, McPherson, and Wilson).

Notably, there is a whopping six-way tie for second place, with each counsel having argued three cases. The counsel (in alphabetical order) are: Captain Brian Andes (Army Appellate Defense), Mr. William Cassara (civilian), Captain Samuel Gabremariam (Army Appellate Government), Captain Daniel Karna (Army Appellate Government), Captain Matthew J. Neil (Air Force Appellate Government), and Captain Thomas Smith (Air Force Appellate Defense).

Past winners can be seen here.

4 Responses to “2013 Term Silver CAAF Tongue Award winner”

  1. Just Sayin' says:

    So that means most military attorneys argue only one or two a year? How many at the lower courts? As a matter of perspective, in my first year as a civilian prosecutor I wrote twelve appellate briefs (four of which were murders, the rest all but one were serious felonies). I argued eight with the rest carried over to the next term, second chaired a murder trial and a death penalty habeas, first chaired five other habeas trials and handled at least a dozen post conviction motions. And my schedule was comparatively light for a felony level prosecutor Our intermediate appellate court hears 6 cases a day when in session. Can anyone educate me on why we need so many billets for such a small caseload?

  2. Phil Cave says:

    JS, several thoughts.
    You were the prosecutor.  Thus, you only reacted to briefs filed by the defense?  In the briefs you filed did you have to read thousands of pages to address the issues raised by the defense or could you limit your review of the ROT to that necessary to answer the issues?  If so, that’s a lot less work than having to read all of the issues, have multiple detailed talks with the client, do the research, and write, etc.  I confess I had your view before I reported to NAD as deputy many, many, many years ago.
    However, each ADC has to read every record that comes into the office.  In my day at NAD, we were getting over 3000 new cases per year, of which many went to CAAF, and several to the Supremes.  I know the caseload is down, but the types of issues are more complex.  I’m in the middle of writing a motion to challenge the constitutionality of Art. 120(g)(7), right now, so haven’t the chance to tot up the stats from the annual reports.  Keep in mind that every guilty plea case gets reviewed (if it fits the sentence parameters).  So that means the record needs to be read, and you should see in reading the cases plenty of cases attacking the providence of the plea for example.
    ADC has to deal with clients in their caseload.  That means lots of phone time, or email time.  Many of these clients have Grostefon issues.  When the client raises an issue you have to decide if it has merit and brief it.  If no merit you have to assist the client prepare his Grosty submisson (see Grosty and Quigley) – time and effort.  I guess the nearest civilian comparison would be Anders briefs.
    Of all of these CAAF takes fewer than 50 to argue these days.  Keep in mind that every client who loses at the CCA has a right to petition CAAF, ADC has little control over that.  That means a new “brief” has to be written.  If CAAF grants then another brief and appendix.
    Does that justify or explain, no idea.  But that’s a wavetops explanation from me of the iceberg you are seeing at CAAF.
    Now, on the argument issue, there are many requests at the intermediate level – the courts of criminal appeals, that are declined by the court.  Only at CAAF can you automatically plan on a oral argument.

  3. Just Sayin' says:

    That’s a partial explanation for the defense billets. And there are more public defender appellate counsel and contract special public defenders for the same reasons you cite. There is certainly more work in issue spotting than issue responding. But half the nominees here are prosecutors. With three arguments. And none are navy or marine. That certainly suggests to me that appellate government is over-manned. As to complexity of issues, I’m not so sure that’s the case  sure some caaf issues are complex. But so are many state issues. 

  4. The Silver Fox says:

    I heard that when Maj Breen goes to CAAF, the judges have to answer his questions.