CAAFlog » Silver CAAF Tongue

We award the Silver CAAF Tongue to the appellate counsel who argued the most cases at CAAF during the term.

Two errors in my case-tracking spreadsheet caused me to miscount, and I originally had Mr. William Cassara as the sole winner, with four oral arguments: Gaskins, Squire, Garner, and Vazquez.

But there are two winners this year. Major Tyson Kindness of the Air Force Appellate Government Division also argued four cases: Cote, Datavs, Vazquez, and LRM (for the United States).

My deepest apologies to Major Kindness for my error.

Notably, Major Kindness and Mr. Cassara faced-off in the certified case of United States v. Vazquez, No. 12-5002/AF, (opinion) (CAAFlog case page), with Major Kindness’ argument prevailing.

A four seven-way tie for second place is shared by Captain Michael Berry (Navy-Marine Corps Appellate Defense), Captain Kenneth Borgnino (Army Appellate Government), Lieutenant David Dziengowski (Navy-Marine Corps Appellate Defense), Captain Brandon H. Iriye (Army Appellate Defense), Major William Kirby (Navy-Marine Corps Appellate  Government), Captain Brian Mason (Air Force Appellate Government), and Major David Roberts (Navy-Marine Corps Appellate Government). Each argued three cases this term.

Congratulations to all.

In a term when CAAF heard only 35 oral argumetns, Maj Jeff Liebenguth, USMC, of Code 45 argued five of those cases (Norwood, Watson, Stewart, Hayes, Bradley).  (Maj Liebenguth’s last name is misspelled, however, in both the Bradley slip opinion on CAAF’s website and in West’s Military Justice Reporter See United States v. Bradley, 71 M.J. 13, 14 (C.A.A.F. 2012).)  He is this year’s hands down winner of the Silver CAAF Tongue Award.

Last term’s Silver CAAF tongue winners had only three oral arguments each.  The previous term’s winner had four.  The 2008 term’s co-winners also had four.  But the previous year’s winner — then-Major Brian Keller — had six.

As we’ve noted in the past, unlike the Golden CAAF, which results in the bestowal of an actual trophy to the winner, there is no physical manifestation of the Silver CAAF Tongue Award.  But it is, of course, a life-changing honor.

The member of CAAF’s civilian bar with the most arguments was our very own Mary o’ St. Mary’s Hall, with two (Stanley, Winckelmann).

Much like the NFL, the military appellate shops seem to have achieved parity.  For the last four years, we’ve recognized the counsel who argued the most cases at CAAF by naming them the winners of the “Silver CAAF Tongue Award.”  (Unlike the Golden CAAF, which results in the bestowal of an actual trophy to the winner, there is no physical manifestation of the Silver CAAF Tongue Award.  But it is, of course, a life changing honor.)

In most years past, there have been one or two runaway winners each term, usually from appellate government shops, which seemed more likely to feed CAAF arguments to particular counsel.  This year, however, 8 counsel — four appellate government counsel and four appellate defense cuonsel — tied for the lead with three arguments apiece.  Only three non-DOD employed civilian counsel appeared as counsel for a party at CAAF.  Bill Cassara led that herd with two.

CAAF heard 47 oral arguments last term and issued 46 opinions of the court.  (Three of the oral arguments didn’t result in an opinion of the court but were instead disposed of in a summary fashion.  In two of the cases that produced an opinion of the court, there was no oral argument.)  Of the 47 arguments, 18 were in Air Force cases, 15 were in Army cases, 13 were in Navy or Marine Corps cases, and one was a Coast Guard case.

Three Air Force appellate government counsel and three Air Force appellate defense counsel argued three cases at CAAF last term:  Capt Joseph Kubler, Maj Charles Warren, and Maj Naomi Porterfield from JAJG and Maj Nick McCue, Maj Reggie “Yagermeister” Yager, and Capt Andy Unsicker from JAJA. The Navy-Marine Corps appellate government and appellate defense divisions each had one lawyer with three oral arguments — Capt Robert Eckert from Code 46 and LCDR Michael Torrisi from Code 45.

To narrow down the field, I decided to look at the success rate of each of the eight counsel who argued three cases.  Two of the counsel had a clean sweep — winning a victory in each of their three cases.  Those two counsel are our 2010 Term SIlver CAAF Tongue Award winners.  Congratulations to Capt Joseph Kubler and Maj Charles Warren.

I’ve started doing some number crunching of CAAF’s 2010 Term opinions.  The resulting stats will probably generate a few posts over the weekend. 

When I crunched the Silver CAAF Tongue Award numbers, I overlooked the oral argument in United States v. Moore, No. 09-5005, which resulted in a summary disposition.  Once Moore is added to the mix, my former colleague Maj Marla Gillman ties Maj Coretta Gray as this year’s Silver CAAF Tongue Award winner.  Congratulations to Maj Gillman, our first-ever appellate defense winner.

I’ve begun crunching end o’ term numbers. 

This is the fourth year that we’ve noted the member of CAAF’s bar who argued the most cases during the term.  In all four years, that counsel came from JAJG (two years) or Code 46 (two years).  This term’s Silver CAAF Tongue Award winner is the estimable Maj Coretta Gray, who appeared for the government at 4 of CAAF’s 43 oral arguments this year.

Congratulations to Maj Gray — though, unlike the Golden CAAF, there’s no physical manifestation of this award.

It was almost inevitable that this year’s Silver CAAF Tongue Award for the most oral arguments would go to a naval judge advocate, since CAAF issued opinions of the Court in 21 Navy and Marine Corps cases, compared to 12 each for the Army and Air Force and one for the Coast Guard.  And for the third year in a row (as long as we’ve been keeping track), first place goes to an appellate government counsel.  Well, actually two appellate government counsel.  LCDR Paul Bunge, JAGC, USN, and Maj Elizabeth Harvey, USMC, led the herd with four CAAF oral arguments apiece. 

Congratulations to LCDR Bunge and Maj Harvey — though, unlike the Golden CAAF, no physical manifestation of this award actually exists.

The civilian counsel with the most oral arguments this term was Mary Hall, with two.

This year’s Silver CAAF Tongue Award for the most oral arguments of the term goes to Maj Brian Keller of the Navy-Marine Corps Appellate Government Division, who licked the competition with six oral arguments. Congratulations, Maj Keller — though, unlike the Golden CAAF, no physical manifestation of this award actually exists.

The civilian counsel with the most oral arguments this term was Frank Spinner, with four.