The Duane Morris LLP Moot Court Room was temporarily transformed into a federal courtroom on September 26, 2018, as the Army Court of Criminal Appeals – the Army’s highest court – heard oral argument in U.S. v. Turner, an appeal from a sentence of life imprisonment, before a packed gallery of students and faculty.
Dean Gregory N. Mandel opened the proceedings with brief remarks. “This is an extraordinary opportunity for the students here today, and on behalf of Temple University Beasley School of Law, I am grateful to the Court and to Counsel for allowing us this window into military procedure and practice,” Mandel said. “Here at Temple Law, we speak often about the duty of lawyers to uphold and defend our nation’s democratic ideals. As the oldest law firm in the nation – it was established in 1775 – the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps is rooted in the very bedrock of American democracy.”
Mandel was referring to the origin of the JAG Corps, which was established by the Continental Congress to provide legal advice to General George Washington shortly after he took command of the Continental Army. The JAG Corps is also one of the country’s largest firms, with more than 4,500 full-time and part-time lawyers. The Court itself traces its lineage to 1920, when the Articles of War were amended to add Article 50 ½. This regulation directed the Judge Advocate General to “constitute, in his office, a board of review consisting of not less than three officers of the Judge Advocate General’s Department.” Over time, this Board of Military Review evolved in scope and, in 1994, was renamed the Court of Criminal Appeals.
Director of Advocacy Programs Jules Epstein emphasized the significance of this opportunity to witness high caliber appellate argument and judging, describing JAG lawyers as some of the best at their craft. Epstein has worked with the JAG Corps in the past, teaching JAG lawyers Evidence and trial advocacy skills.
After argument was concluded and the Court had adjourned, the judges and lawyers returned for a question and answer session led by Associate Judge, Colonel Anthony T. Febbo LAW ’92, addressing questions both about the differences between military and civil procedure and what life is like as a JAG lawyer or judge.