Monday, May 16, 2011

JAA Awards Dinner Recap

Blogger had some issues at the end of last week, so I'm just now getting around to posting a recap of the Judge Advocates Association Annual Awards Dinner from last Thursday.

NIMJ President Eugene Fidell and I got to sit at the same table as DC District Court Chief Judge Royce Lamberth (Army JAG in Vietnam), who is a really great guy, I discovered, despite his choice of law schools.  (BEVO--it's what's for dinner.)  Veterans Affairs General Counsel Will Gunn (retired USAF JAG colonel) and JAA Treasurer Ed Rodriguez (retired USAFR Brig Gen) were the other dignitaries at our table, but were hardly the only ones present at the Army-Navy Country Club in Arlington that night. The room was loaded with stars; I don't remember quite that many in attendance last year. Every current TJAG/Acting TJAG/SJA to the Commandant was there, as were several of the DJAGs/DSJA and Reserve/retired 1- and 2-star generals. The awards were for unbelievably impressive accomplishments (Army for battlefield stuff, Coast Guard for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, etc.)  One of my JAG school classmates was the active duty USAF awardee.

The "big name" honorees of the night included Army Chief Trial Judge Stephen Henley, whose impressive list of cases includes presiding over the military commissions for KSM and his co-accused 9/11 plotters, dismissing the commission case against Mohammed Jawad over torture allegations, and the general court-martial case of one-time 1-star JAG nominee Colonel Michael Murphy.

Retired USAF TJAG Lt Gen Jack Rives, the current ABA executive director, spoke about joining the ABA (they even had an extra-special deal for those attending), and about what it really means to be a JAG--that it sometimes means telling your boss and civilian leadership things they don't want to hear because it's the right thing to do.  He also spent a notable amount of time on the proposed JAG general officer cuts, a subject about which he is clearly quite passionate.  See our previous coverage on the issue here.  You can find Lt Gen Rives' entire speech here

The award for the former JAG who'd gone on to great things in non-military life went to John "Til" Hazel (former Army JAG).  The George Mason University Law School building is named after him.  I really liked his speech; I'll post it if I get a copy.

One big disappointment was the crowd noise while JAA President Marc Warren went through the list of DVs. After he told people to hold their applause until the end, the room erupted in chatter so that even those of us near the front of the room had to strain to hear him; I thought it was rather rude, particularly for a military crowd.