Brigadier General Joseph Berger speaks with students
2L student Sabrina Rocco, summer 2018 JAG intern
Captain Daniel C. Kim
Law students got a sneak peek at what it’s like to be a JAG officer when the Army Court of Criminal Appeals visited New England Law | Boston in January 2018. The Court heard oral arguments at the school, giving students a unique glimpse into military court proceedings.
In front of a packed house, Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps officers argued a real-world case involving the warrantless search of a soldier's cell phone by military criminal investigators. Students then had the opportunity to ask questions during a special Q&A session and mingle with the officers at a reception following the hearing.
JAG officers in attendance included Brigadier General Joseph B. Berger III, Commander of the United States Army Legal Services Agency and Chief Judge of the Army Court of Criminal Appeals. Other JAG officers involved in the proceedings included:
- Lieutenant Colonel Deidra J. Fleming and Colonel Lori Campanella (Judges)
- Captain Daniel C. Kim and Major Julie Borchers (Defense Appellant Division)
- Captain Marc Brandon Sawyer and Captain Catharine Parnell (Government Appellant Division)
- Major Kenton Spiegler (Court Commissioner)
“We were honored to have the Army Court of Criminal Appeals visit the law school,” said New England Law Professor Victor Hansen, who organized the event. “They provided our students with an excellent educational opportunity and gave them a valuable insight into the practice of law as a JAG Corps officer.” Professor Hansen is also a 20-year veteran of the US Army and former JAG Corps officer.
A preview of life as a JAG officer
New England Law students took advantage of the event’s Q&A session, asking the judges and lawyers about their career paths and day-to-day responsibilities as members of the JAG Corps. The JAG officers explained how they prepared for the day’s proceedings, essentially treating it like any other real-world case, and discussed some of the challenges and rewards of their work.
One of the students at the event was Sabrina Rocco, a 2L student at New England Law who will be interning with the JAG Corps in the summer of 2018. “I’m so excited,” she said of the internship. “It’s a dream come true.”
Related: My Law School Story: Anthony Scarpati, Jr., Military Law
JAG and the Army Court of Criminal Appeals
The Judge Advocate General Corps is the oldest law firm in the nation—as old as the United States itself. The Continental Congress appointed William Tudor as the first Judge Advocate on July 29, 1775, with Tudor providing legal counsel to George Washington. Congress created the Judge Advocate General’s Department in 1884, which evolved into the modern day JAG Corps.
JAG Corps members include both commissioned and noncommissioned officers, as well as soldiers and civilians. They include lawyers, legal administrators, paralegals, and court reporters. Corps members are involved in military justice, operational law, and civil law. They may also provide legal services to soldiers and their families.
The Army Court of Criminal Appeals reviews courts-martial convictions. Tracing its history back to a 1920 amendment to the Articles of War, it is the Army’s highest court.
Students can explore JAG careers here.