CAAF Judicial Conference

It’s over.

This years series of presentations was much better than previous years.  The topics and speakers were much more relevant, while being sufficiently edgy at the same time.  Gone are the days where a “prof” from TJAGSA would go through slides reporting the school’s view of “this years” military appellate case law.  Such predictable “modules” could be stultifying.  And removing rote school teaching from the agenda is not a bad thing when you consider the professional makeup of the likely audience.  However, going too far the other way to discuss books about submarine recovery/searches risks irrelevance.

General Chiarelli was among the best of the speakers.  He had quite a bit of interest to talk about.  But the under-stated points he made were about a commanders relationship to her lawyer and vice-versa.  His relevant points:

1.  Advisors should give candid legal advice, and should have the moral courage to stick with that advice.

2.  Lawyers should give value added advice and support, and not be an obstacle.  He was careful to make the point that he’s not looking for lawyers who are willing to break the rules just so the commander can have the right answer.  As we all know, there are often ways to take the commanders goal and find a legitimate, but creative path to achieving the goal.

3.  In the right situation the lawyer needs to elbow their way to the table.

4.  Lawyers should not work in isolation.  Get out of the office, talk to other lawyers, talk to operators and other staff members, and above all know your issues.

5.  He was equally at odds with lawyers who always say no, because that’s the safe path, as with the lawyers who always say yes and have a way around rules.

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