Back in August, the Secretary of the Navy (then Richard Spencer, who was fired in November for lack of candor) ordered a comprehensive review of the Navy and Marine Corps legal communities.

That review is complete and a 274-page report is available here.

The report makes 99 recommendations, which are reproduced after the jump.

7.1 SUMMARY OF NAVY RECOMMENDATIONS

7.1.1 Culture

1. Issue governing principles for the JAG Corps that establish and emphasize the judge advocate’s status as both Naval Officer and attorney. Reinforce these principles through accessions training, each career education and training opportunity, prior to milestone assignments and promotions and generally throughout a judge advocate’s career.

2. Expand the portion of JAG officer accessions from the Law Education Program (LEP) and In-Service Procurement Program (IPP) to both expand the size of the JAG Corps as required and develop an expanded cadre of judge advocates with Fleet perspective.

3. Determine resources necessary to provide in-residence professional military education, in addition to advanced legal education, and deliver a plan to execute accordingly.

4. Leverage modern training techniques to include practical application through simulations and exercises for the purpose of developing skills, maintaining proficiency, as well as team building for both generalist and litigation personnel.

5. Sustain efforts in national security law, command advice, administrative law, legal assistance and claims that support naval operations and Sailors. Effectively communicate the need for, and value of, these missions to the entire JAG Corps organization.

6. Develop a formal, repeatable and continuous process to assess the effectiveness of all aspects of the Navy JAG Corps’ legal practice, to include OJAG headquarters, staff judge advocates, Naval Justice School and the judiciary, and codify that process in a formal instruction. This self-assessment program must be founded on clear identification of Navy requirements, determination of whether the JAG Corps is meeting those requirements, identification of standards used to measure success, and employment of effective processes to share lessons across the legal community.

Coordinate with the Navy Inspector General to review the Commanding General Inspection Program (CGIP) administered by the Inspector General of the Marine Corps (IGMC) for the functional area of Legal Administration and apply it to the Navy JAG Corps.

7. Improve the JAG Corps Professional Responsibility program to provide regular and proactive dissemination of lessons learned, including the use of case studies of recent and selected past disciplinary actions and “near misses.” Consistent with the Privacy Act, provide information on matters leading to corrective actions and the publication of JAG and Rules Counsel ethics opinions. Coordinate with Naval Education and Training Command to incorporate lessons into judge advocate pipeline training as well as annual Professional Responsibility training for the JAG Corps.

8. Collaborate with the American Bar Association, State Bars, and the Armed Services to identify best practices for professional responsibility rules and processes.

9. Establish a formal process to consult recipients of OJAG support, to include external agencies such as those sections of the Department of Justice that represent the DON in litigation for matters under the cognizance of JAG, to ensure continuous evaluation of OJAG performance.

7.1.2 Organization

10. Provide the Secretary and Service Chiefs clear guidance regarding appropriate roles and responsibilities of JAG and DJAG in providing information and advice to DON principal officials.

11. Provide the results of the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA) study to the Secretary and Service Chiefs along with a detailed recommendation on organizational changes to improve lines of authority, responsibility and accountability.

12. Pending completion of the CNA report, consider creating and resourcing an active duty Navy Flag billet to independently serve as CNLSC.

13. Review Navy AJAG billets to determine whether the breadth and scope of these senior JAG Corps leadership positions warrant assignment of active duty RDMLs (O-7). If warranted, develop a legislative proposal to amend 10 U.S.C. § 8089 and

create permanent active Flag AJAG billets. In the alternative, support reinstatement of retired pay authority for AJAGs who retire at the rank of Rear Admiral (Lower Half) or Brigadier General.

14. Review the existing relationships between Chief of Staff-RLSO and TCAP, as well as Chief of Staff-DSO and DCAP, to ensure that they are properly aligned and focused on delivering efficient and effective legal services to the Fleet through their RLSO and DSO organizations.

15. Request CNA evaluate how judge advocates assigned to the SECNAV and CNO personal staffs, and the legal opinions and advice they provide, are overseen to ensure that the JAG, the SJA to CMC, and General Counsel remain the final approval authorities on advice provided to the DON’s most senior leaders.

16. Evaluate the Marine Corps Judge Advocate Board process (MCJAB) and propose a similar Navy organization.

17. Assess overall NLSC alignment with Navy and Fleet priorities and issue a NLSC strategy document that redirects and reorients NLSC commands in line with governing principles established by recommendation 4.2.1.a.

18. Consider an organizational change to reestablish Trial Service Offices (TSOs) in order to achieve the single mission focus of providing court-martial prosecution services. In the planning process, address the resulting organizational and resourcing effects on ashore SJA offices, legal services to Sailors and their families, Victims’ Legal Counsel, the First Tour Judge Advocate program, and impact to command opportunities.

19. Coordinate the reestablishment of TSOs with alignment of Region SJA billets to the applicable Region Commanders, and alignment of other SJA billets to their respective commanders.

20. Develop specific professional qualifications, to include minimum experience, and training requirements for Region SJAs, given their role in the Navy’s general courts- martial practice.

21. Review procedures for evaluating defense counsel support requests to emphasize the need for affording both defense and government counsel adequate access to resources as well as to ensure compliance with the Military Justice Act of 2016.

7.1.3 Education and Training

22. Formalize a relationship between Commander, Naval Education and Training Command and JAG to assess, develop, and deliver an improved career continuum legal training for line officers. Review requirements for career milestone-based legal training for officers and senior enlisted leaders, focused on the legal requirements and challenges associated with incremental leadership responsibilities.

23. Develop and deliver through operational chains of command standardized legal training for commanders at all echelons that provides guidance on use of the military justice system, administrative accountability measures, and compliance with standards of conduct. Commanders serving as Convening Authorities require scenario- based training on military justice, ethics, and UCI, which incorporates lessons learned, and ongoing assessments of implementation of the Military Justice Act of 2016.

24. Develop standardized decision aids for legal matters that provide commanders flow charts of their basic legal options and decision points regarding personnel accountability, disciplinary actions, and investigative procedures. Decision aids should include administrative options, to include Show Cause Proceedings (Boards of Inquiry) and their potential impact on follow-on administrative or military justice proceedings. For example, “if a conviction is obtained at a court-martial and does not include a dismissal, subsequent convening of a board of inquiry has the following advantages and disadvantages…” These aids should be tailored to support commanders at each echelon.

25. Revise the Manual of the Judge Advocate General to clarify, consistent with case disposition guidance, that general court-martial convening authorities are not required to forward cases requiring trial by general court-martial to Navy Region Commanders, but, in their discretion, may convene general courts-martial locally, as required, to maintain good order and discipline within their commands.

7.1.4 Resourcing

26. Align JAG Corps community management practices to meet Navy officer community management practices. This includes developing a strategic plan accounting for current and future Fleet demands and formal definition of career paths, milestones, education, training, and professional development. Navy experience has proven this requires a dedicated, integrated community management team, not a collateral duty responsibility. Establishing formal community management practices is not to interfere with the JAG’s authority under 10 U.S.C. § 806 to direct the assignment (detail) of judge advocates. Rather, it is to establish a Fleet-focused, strategic JAG Corps human resources program.

27. Formally define career and competency expectations by paygrade and communicate those expectations to the JAG Corps in a formal policy document.

28. Review officer subspecialty code structures and review all billets that require or should require a subspecialty code to ensure proper identification of officers’ experience and use of that experience.

29. Ensure to the maximum extent practicable that all judge advocates receive required milestone training prior to or en route to billet assignment, rather than on an ad hoc basis.

30. Explore, in coordination with the Army and Air Force, the feasibility of developing a VLC certification course at NJS to ensure greater flexibility in VLC certification and assignment.

31. Once NLSC organizational structure reviews are complete, conduct a comprehensive JAG Corps assessment of judge advocate and Legalman inventory and billet distribution requirements based on current and anticipated Fleet requirements. This assessment will support definition of career tracks, training, and education requirements, and milestones necessary to inform both numbers and skill sets required.

32. Review current judge advocate accession sources and identify where direct recruitment and use of new “DOPMA relief” authority to commission experienced attorneys with specific skills needed by the Navy might be more effective and efficient.

33. Evaluate execution of the first tour judge advocate program, and the associated professional development officer and professional development standards programs, based on formal measures of effectiveness, balancing Fleet requirements for legal services and JAG Corps professional development requirements.

34. After determining the appropriate future structure of NLSC, determine the necessary manning construct for NLSC field offices, to include paralegal, information technology, administrative, security, and other support billets required to optimize delivery of Fleet legal services.

35. Prioritize any future review of NLSC field offices, consistent with Fleet requirements.

36. Review the development, distribution, and enforcement of institutional standards regarding Legalmen training. Publish clear expectations on division of attorney and paralegal roles and responsibilities. Drive cultural change to require effective judge advocate and Legalman teamwork in accordance with published standards.

37. Review retention incentives, to include Judge Advocate Continuation Pay, to ensure that necessary incentives are in place, of sufficient financial value and properly structured to specifically address student loan debt and senior officer retention challenges, ensuring retention of the officers best qualified. Consider payment of licensing and associated continuing education fees and adoption of a law school education debt subsidy program, similar to Marine Corps efforts.

38. Review the issue of direct accessions of civilian paralegals to the Legalman rating, as well as targeted incentives to address current recruiting and retention challenges. Examine options to open the years of service window for rating conversion of prior serving Sailors to the Legalman rating.

39. Fund Disability Evaluation System Counsel Program attorney billets to ensure continued support of Sailors and Marines in the disability evaluation process.

40. Optimize the inventory and assignment of Military Justice Litigation Career Track practitioners to meet Fleet court-martial requirements, carefully considering the imperative of maintaining a fully capable military justice litigation community and efficiencies to be gained through proper military and civilian paralegal utilization.

41. Identify career paths that return senior officer MJLCT litigators to the courtroom as trial and defense counsel, and detail them accordingly to mentor and lead junior counsel from the front.

42. Consider making command eligibility or equivalent assignment a milestone requirement for all qualified MJLCT litigators to ensure an adequate cadre of senior officers are available for leadership roles within NLSC and other equivalent military justice positions.

43. Consider detailing only senior MJLCT qualified officers to NLSC command, OIC and executive officer billets.

44. Forward reports prepared in compliance with 10 U.S.C. § 946a to the Secretary and Service Chiefs to ensure senior leaders are informed of measures implemented to ensure the ability of judge advocates to participate competently as trial and defense counsel, to preside as military judges, and to perform the duties of victims’ legal counsel.

45. In coordination with Marine Corps, assess the feasibility of longer or more repeat tours for military judges.

46. Explore offering qualified retired Commanders (O-5) and Captains (O-6) the opportunity to serve as military judges under an “out and back” or “up and stay” program.

47. Assess requirements to assign law clerks within Navy-Marine Corps Trial Judiciary Circuits in support of trial-level military judges. Report the results of this assessment to JAG for resourcing consideration, consistent with overall Fleet requirements.

48. Resource the expedited acquisition of a modern, secure military justice data collection and case management system that is compliant with statutory and DoD requirements. This is essential to improve the efficiency of the DON military justice system, mitigate the risks of legal error caused by poor case management, facilitate more accurate and informative responses to internal and external requests for data, and enable effective trend analysis.

49. Expedite appropriate waivers from NMCI and other government networks (such as ONE-NET) policies, or develop alternatives to the same, to implement modern court-reporting technologies and software to include identification and resourcing of the court reporters and IT support personnel necessary to maintain these systems. Establish commercial “white lines” (i.e., non-secure) in courtrooms to facilitate the use of artificial intelligence assisted transcription. Provide an assessment of any resource challenges or delays as part of the annual military justice report submitted to the Secretary and Service Chiefs.

50. Evaluate current Navy courtroom facilities and security protocols compared to federal civilian courtroom facilities, security infrastructure, and policies in consultation with the U.S. Marshals Service and Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Ensure sufficient Master-at-Arms or other properly trained Navy security forces are provided for court-martial proceedings.

7.1.5 Unlawful Command Influence

51. Provide all Flag Officers, commanders, and judge advocates clear, current, and consistent guidance and training on what constitutes unlawful command influence. The training must proactively incorporate the important lessons to be learned from recent and selected past case law, particularly emphasizing convening authorities’ independence. At the same time, commanders must be encouraged by this training to exert lawful influence over their commands in the interest of maintaining good order and discipline.

7.2 SUMMARY OF MARINE CORPS RECOMMENDATIONS

7.2.1 Culture

1. Ensure members of the Marine Corps uniformed legal community attain legal expertise and simultaneously develop as well-rounded Marine Air-Ground Task Force officers.

7.2.2 Organization

2. Submit a legislative proposal to establish a direct statutory relationship between the Staff Judge Advocate to the Commandant of the Marine Corps and the Secretary of the Navy, consistent with current regulation and past recommendations.

3. Ensure, enforce, promulgate, and communicate to Marine Corps stakeholders the regulatory roles and responsibilities of the Staff Judge Advocate to the Commandant of the Marine Corps and the Counsel for the Commandant.

4. Consider renaming the billet “Counsel for the Commandant” to one that more accurately defines the billet roles and responsibilities as an Office of General Counsel attorney who reports to the Department of the Navy General Counsel.

5. Increase accession of Marine judge advocates, until such time as the Captain (O-3) community is appropriately staffed.

6. Fund continuation pay for judge advocates within the Department of the Navy, with amounts and structure designed to stem current negative retention trends.

7. Fund an enduring Law School Education Debt Subsidy program as a recruiting, retention, and talent management tool.

8. Reimburse judge advocates for their continuing annual licensing fee requirements.

9. Ensure continuous communication with the Marine uniformed legal community to facilitate transparency and better understanding of the Marine Corps assignments process.

10. Do not consider Marine judge advocate Captains (O-3) executing their first set of permanent change of station orders for the Commandant’s Career-Level Education Board or B-billet assignment.

11. Develop a reporting mechanism to track when a judge advocate serves outside the military occupational specialty in support of local mission requirements.

12. Evaluate making judge advocate (4402) Colonels ineligible for selection to O- 6 command.

13. Ensure a judge advocate (4402) General Officer participates in every Colonel (O-6) selection board to explain unique legal career paths to help select the best and fully qualified judge advocate Colonels (O-6).

14. Provide precept language for every Colonel (O-6) selection board to explain the unique legal career paths to help select the best and fully qualified judge advocate (4402) Colonels (O-6) when a judge advocate General Officer is not available.

7.2.3 Education and Training

15. Establish annual formalized professional responsibility training for judge advocates, and during Article 6, Uniform Code of Military Justice visits, reinforce the importance of mentorship and supervision.

16. Collaborate with the American Bar Association, State Bars, and the Armed Services to identify best practices for professional responsibility rules and processes.

17. Develop resident or online courses, by billet and grade, to refresh the skills of practitioners returning from assignments outside the Marine Corps uniformed legal community.

18. Leverage modern training techniques to include practical application through simulations and exercises for the purpose of developing skills, maintaining proficiency, as well as team building for both generalist and litigation personnel.

19. Do not assign uniformed judge advocates to Office of General Counsel (Counsel for the Commandant (CL)) offices; transition CL billets formerly held by uniformed judge advocates to civilian positions.

20. Realign judge advocate structure from Office of General Counsel (Counsel for the Commandant) to support Marine Corps uniformed legal requirements.

21. Shift educational resources for advanced law degrees that currently support Office of General Counsel requirements to meet uniformed legal requirements in military justice, cyber, and international law.

22. Determine the feasibility of developing a victims’ legal counsel certification course at Naval Justice School offered at different times than the Army and Air Force courses to ensure greater flexibility in victims’ legal counsel certification and assignment.

23. Develop mechanisms to capture and track legal services specialist proficiency at every pay grade that are specifically linked to Training and Readiness Manual requirements.

24. Reconcile the Legal Services Specialist Roadmap with formal training opportunities and Training and Readiness Manual requirements.

25. Identify root causes for lack of participation in further education, such as the Staff Noncommissioned Officer Degree Completion Program, and update the program to address those issues.

7.2.4 Resourcing

26. Adjust current Marine Corps legal billets to support cyber, intelligence, and information operations, per the Commandant’s Planning Guidance.

27. Review the security clearance requirements for all judge advocate billets, and mandate Master of Criminal Law (4409) candidates apply for Sensitive Compartmented Information security clearance eligibility prior to attending an advanced law degree program, similar to the requirement for Master of International Law (4405) or Master of Cyber, Intelligence, and Information Law (4417) candidates.

28. Subject to Center for Naval Analyses (CNA) refinement, determine the appropriate structure for Headquarters, Marine Corps Judge Advocate Division.

29. Develop manpower and assignment policies to reconcile the need for experienced military judges with the institutional goal of promoting well-rounded Marine Air-Ground Task Force officers.

30. Explore offering Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonels (O-5) and Colonels (O-6) the opportunity to serve as military judges under a retire-retain program.

31. Continue the current policy of not assigning military judges leaving the judiciary to litigation billets in the same geographic location.

32. Resource a pilot program for Defense Services Organization investigators.

33. Assess the Marine Corps inventory of judge advocates with advanced degrees in criminal law (AMOS 4409), subject to validation and refinement by the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA) study.

34. Continue current processes to resource defense expert assistance in courts- martial; ensure convening authority training emphasizes the convening authority’s responsibilities to ensure equal access to evidence and witnesses per Article 46, Uniform Code of Military Justice.

35. Continue the current processes for travel and training funding to the Defense Services Organization and its regional defense services offices.

36. Add the Chief Defense Counsel to the Marine Corps Judge Advocate Board, when appropriate.

37. Further assess the staffing of the Victims’ Legal Counsel Offices at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.

38. Authorize a civilian paralegal at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni.

39. Hire a civilian litigation attorney advisor at Victims’ Legal Counsel Organization headquarters.

40. Determine if additional victims’ legal counsel are required in anticipation of Congress mandating the provision of victims’ legal counsel services to domestic violence victims.

41. Resource the expedited acquisition of a modern, secure military justice data collection and case management system that is compliant with statute and Department of Defense requirements. This is essential to improve the efficiency of the Department of the Navy military justice system, mitigate the risks of legal error caused by poor case management, facilitate more accurate and informative responses to internal and external requests for data, and enable effective trend analysis.

42. Expedite appropriate waivers from information technology policies, or develop alternatives to the same, to implement modern court-reporting technologies and software to include establishing commercial “white lines” (i.e., non-secure) in courtrooms to facilitate the use of artificial intelligence assisted transcription.

43. Maintain a court reporting system capable of operating forward or in austere environments; consider stenographers.

44. Resource improved courtroom security and associated infrastructure to ensure trial courtrooms meet required physical security standards; regarding state-of- the-art courtroom security requirements, consider coordinating with the U.S. Marshals Service.

7.2.5 Unlawful Command Influence

45. Deliver training on military legal matters (military justice, ethics, etc.) during every formal professional military education course using case studies.

46. Conduct annual military justice refresher training for every court-martial convening authority.

47. Enforce existing mechanisms to ensure commanders are held accountable where appropriate.

48. Provide all General Officers, commanders, and judge advocates clear, current, and consistent guidance and training on what constitutes unlawful command influence. The training must incorporate the important lessons to be learned from recent and selected past case law, particularly emphasizing convening authorities’ independence. At the same time, commanders must be encouraged by this training to exert lawful influence over their commands in the interest of maintaining good order and discipline.

15 Responses to “Review of Navy and Marine Corps legal communities is complete. Report makes 99 recommendations”

  1. Lenina Huxley says:

    Way to make broad, useless recommendations.  They might as well have said, “the JAG Corps needs to do better.”

  2. K fischer says:

    This report is very lengthy.   But, it fails to address the last point of the scope and review of SecNav’s directive (page 13)  which is:
     
    • Any matter deemed appropriate that is directly related to the organization,
    leadership, oversight, and performance of the Navy and Marine Corps uniformed legal communities.
     
    A few ‘matters’ are:
    1.  What are the circumstances that led to TJAG giving advice that made a GCMCA a type III accuser?
    2.  How deeply ingrained in Navy culture is the strategy of not doing what you believe to be correct under the law for fear of having a target painted on your back by Congress or your chain of command?
    3.  What are the circumstances that led to Chief Barry having charges preferred against him for sexual assault, charges referred against him for sexual assault, and being convicted by a Military Judge for sexual assault?
    4.  How prevalent are the circumstances that led to the wrongful conviction of Chief Barry referenced in question 3 above in the prosecutions of sexual assault courts-martial in the US Navy? (We know of Midshipman Gilpin’s case)
     
    I think the fact that PMM’s have to be much more formal to have sexual assault charges not referred, than an informal PMM to refer charges as noted in footnote 172, tells us much of what we need to know about how concerned all the Services and Congress are for the rights of those falsely Accused.
     
    Congress and the military advising it has developed a justice system that punishes those who are concerned that innocent men will be convicted of sexual assault, and rewards those who enable this epidemic of whores who manipulate the system to leverage child custody, avoid responsibility, or avoid punishment, by making false allegations that will have zero adverse effects to the false accuser.  And, when you simply try to point out the lack of logic their behavior evidences or ask questions to reconcile it in your mind, then you are labeled a slut shamer or a victim blamer. 
     
     
    I’m not saying that these questions will always get you to the right answer, but why can’t we ask the questions?  Why couldn’t this report address specific incidents in which UCI occurred and how the Navy got there?  Someone should address whether or not the Navy is pushing the envelope of aggressive prosecutions to the point where it is more acceptable that 10 innocent men get convicted to prevent 1 guilty man from going free?  Because these are matters that have strongly affected the oversight and performance of the Navy’s legal services, as well as the Army and the Air Force.

  3. stewie says:

    On the one hand, I certainly agree we’ve gone backwards in protecting accused on the altar of sexual assault…
    On the other hand, when you type “epidemic of whores,” it’s hard to continue to take you seriously.

  4. anonymous says:

    This report on improving future JAG service to the Fleet contains pretty good broad ideas (like published lessons learned and clear C2) to mitigate risk of recurrence in their four stated focus areas: 1) GDMA-type ethics, 2) Barry-type UCI, 3) Benson-type bad advice, and 4) Gallagher-type screw-ups. 
     
    Minor footnote: Since the report goes so heavily into organization and resourcing, specifically the changes implemented during RLSO re-organization, it is surprising they don’t mention relevant resourcing shifts during CNIC Regionalization.  

  5. charlie gittins says:

    13. Ensure a judge advocate (4402) General Officer participates in every Colonel (O-6) selection board to explain unique legal career paths to help select the best and fully qualified judge advocate Colonels (O-6).
    When I saw this, all it said to me is that the SJA to CMC will de facto select O-6s to the detriment of the entire JA USMC community.
     

  6. RobS says:

    For the critics, this review was requested at the end of August and the respective teams had a deadline of 90 days. That’s a pretty short window for such an endeavor and they sought only a single short extension.  The USMC is also undergoing a more detailed review by CNA which is due in the spring.  The CNA report will contain far more detail. This report looks like a good start. BTW: The Executive Panel overseeing this report was composed of a broad array of well-established members of the legal community (including multiple civilian defense counsels), few of any of which were cheerleaders for DoN policies. Of course, critics will be critics…

  7. CAPT X says:

    I found the report disappointingly mushy, at least with respect to the Navy recommendations, but there were some useful nuggets.
     
    The Good: 
    – A recognition that the Navy has tried to have a JAG Corps on the cheap, both in terms of resources and manning, and that this approach has come at a cost.
    – A recognition that RLSO-ization was a bad idea and ought to be reversed post haste.
     
    The Bad:
    – Logically inconsistent recommendations.  Navy judge advocates aren’t focused enough on their role as Naval officers, senior MJLQ officers should focus on litigation, and MJLQ officer inventory should be “optimized” in light of the smaller court-martial caseload, but only MJLQ officers should serve in OIC, XO, and CO billets.  Are you kidding me with this?
    – A failure to make meaningful recommendations regarding the FTJA program.  They nibble around the edges with findings that having an O-4 tied up as PDO is kind of a waste and SJA support to installations is suffering, but I expected to see more detail regarding a program that is so foundational to the preparation of the officers who will give advice to fleet commanders.  Is the program worth tying up so much judge advocate inventory for 36-48 months?  What should happen to the program if the RLSO construct is no more?  They basically punted on this.
     
    The Ugly:
    – A complete failure to address the elephant in the room.  Isn’t part of the problem here the fact that the JAG and CNLSC are almost never officers with significant military justice experience?
    – I’m just going to double-tap the recommendation that only MJLQ officers should serve in OIC, XO, and CO billets.  That may be the single worst idea in the history of the Navy JAG Corps.  Wow.  Just wow.
     
    All in all, the report feels like a bit of a missed opportunity.  Yes, I realize they only had 90 days to put this together, but in my opinion they whiffed on a few of the big questions facing our community.  At the risk of being labeled a critic, that seemed intentional to me.

  8. Vulture says:

    Take it and send it to your representative or Senator, tell them to vote against the NDAA UCI provisions.
    Lindsey Graham did imply that Commanders need to be on the hook.  So here is a way forward.

  9. Ed says:

    Vulture
    I believe it has already been voted upon

  10. Vulture says:

    Man, did I get behind.  Yep, signed on 20 Dec. per Top Stories.  That’s what I get for listening to Lindsey Graham.

  11. Abe Froman says:

    CAPT X, what’s your issue with MJLQ being the CO/XO of strictly litigation commands? I am not saying that only litigators can be leaders (that’s just silly), but why should someone who hasn’t been in a courtroom since their 03 days be expected to lead those who are in the courtroom everyday? What value do they add to the command TRIAD team? 

  12. CAPT X says:

    To be clear, I have no issue with MJLQ officers serving in command leadership billets.  I have known some tremendous Department Heads, OICs, XOs, and COs who happened to be MJLQ officers.  But I also observed a tension between their roles as leaders and litigators, in that they were not always able to give both roles their full attention.I suppose what I’m saying is that we need balance in the force.  There’s a place in the command triad for MJLQ expertise, but command is about leadership, and we need our best leaders in those jobs – period – and that means giving future COs the opportunity to lead as OICs and XOs.  It’s not just about the court-martial we’re trying today.  It’s also about the professional development of the O-3 trying that court-martial who has no desire to grow up to be a litigator.  And I don’t know that I care for the notion that only MJLQ folk are capable of leading MJLQ folk.We were sold the MJLCT as a small cadre of specialists who would enhance our military justice capability, but the throughput to O-6 needed to generate the number of senior MJLQ officers necessary to do what the report describes would require a much larger cadre.  To me, that seems at odds with the other parts of the report that caution against becoming insulated from what the fleet commanders need from us.  A JAG Corps more heavily weighted toward specialists will necessarily be more insular, no?

  13. JustinSayin' says:

    CAPT X – I couldn’t agree more with the points you made.
    The report missed the mark when they divided the JAG Corps into “generalists” and MJCLT.  The REAL categories are: 1)Career SJAs who bounce between operational units/staffs (Carrier Judge, Numbered Fleet, Pentagon, TYCOMs, etc) and RLSO (as region SJA/XO/CO), 2)MJCLT, and 3)Other specialists (environmental law, personnel law, and hospital JAGs (who also do PEB Boards)).  Every single JAG and DJAG has ever come from Category 1 – which is crazy, considering the JAG Corps statutory obligations.
    Reservists: Did it strike anyone else as if there were almost no discussion about the role of reservists?  What is their proper role and function?  How is their performance being assessed?  This seems like a big gap in the report.
    Case Management: The fact that the Navy can’t figure this out – and make pleadings publicly accessible – is a massive failure, IMO.  It’s 2020 for crying out loud!
    Enlisted Ranks: I don’t know why we even need Legalmen anyore.  The legal work that LNs do (processing paperwork like adseps and official Navy correspondence) can be done by YNs and PSs with more expertise.  They don’t investigate cases and they don’t serve as court reporters (like Marine Corps Legal Support Specialists).  Interestingly enough, the excellent YN/PS’s I met were nondeployable sailors TAD to JAGC commands.
    PDOs, FTJAs, and Legal Assistance Attorneys are a complete disaster.  As the report mentions: a PDO is only as good as his/her relationship with the waterfront and getting JOs underway.  Otherwise, they’re just tracking a FTJA PQS – which is something an XO or supervisor could do. 
    The FTJA program is worthless b/c it doesn’t reward actual job competence; it rewards sitting in a job for the designated 6mo/1year. 
    Legal Assistance isn’t done by any JAG beyond their first tour (unless you sign up for a “legal assistance department head” job.  The problem is that the scope of LA services (wills, powers of attorney, income taxes) is narrow.  The attorneys doing that work are either using a TurboTax-like product or substituting names in a template.  They really don’t have any expertise in those areas.  If I were the report-writers, I’d recommend the JAG Corps lobby Congress to remove that statutory JAG Corps obligation.

  14. Wow says:

    @JustSayin We don’t need need LNs anymore? I don’t understand how you arrived at that conclusion if you know anything about the evolution of that rate over the past few years. 
    if you get rid of the LNs. The Navy isn’t going to give us YNs or PSs. We’re all on our own. Based on the reading of the report, it doesn’t seem like they Navy likes this LIMDU situation either. Also, if you think the work product coming from the majority of YNs  and PSs is any good – you likely aren’t paying enough attention to what you’re getting. 
    as for the CO/XO thing, with few exceptions all of the NLSC CO’s I’ve seen lately are just in the spot to get their check in the box for command experience so they can be competitive for CNLSC.  If CNLSC becomes solely focused on MILJUS functions, why should a MILJUS person not be the CO? To keep the SJAs in command is to invite more shotty litigation. That’s like say let’s put the dentist in charge of the primary care health clinic. Sure they’re both doctors, but it’s not the same.  To be clear, I’ve seen some great SJA people in command, but this command thing we do in the Navy is wholly unnecessary. 

  15. JustinSayin' says:

    “if you know anything about the evolution of that rate over the past few years. ”
    Well I’m not active duty any more, but it hasn’t been that long.  Do you mean LPEP?  1) I didn’t see any difference between the RGU grads and any other E-6+ Legalman and 2) Roger Williams ain’t Harvard. 
    “The Navy isn’t going to give us YNs or PSs. We’re all on our own.”
    That’s not what I’m advocating.  Keep manning the same, but instead of LN, give us YN.  And in the future, fold up the LN rate and give YN more legal training.
    “iI you think the work product coming from the majority of YNs  and PSs is any good – you likely aren’t paying enough attention to what you’re getting.”
    I can’t really argue with that, except to say that IN MY OWN EXPERIENCE, the quality I saw from YN was better.  I base that on 10 years of experience 1) working with YNs while underway, 2) supervising YN LIMDUs TAD to my command, and 3) the best LNs I had were former-YNs.

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