Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Real Jag

The JAG’s work for the largest law firm in the world, the U.S. Navy. They’ve traded the BMW’s of their civilian counterparts for humvees and the most adventurous life any attorney could imagine.

There was little or no need for lawyers in the administration of the U.S. Navy prior to the Civil War.

During the Civil War, however, Secretary Welles asked a young assistant U.S. Attorney to present the government's case in complicated courts-martial. Without any statutory authority, Secretary Welles gave him the title of "Solicitor of the Navy Department," making him the first House Counsel to the United States Navy.

By 1865, U.S. Congress had authorised the President to appoint, for service during the rebellion, an officer of the Navy Department to be called the 'Solicitor and Naval Judge Advocate General’. Congress maintained the position on a year-to-year basis.

The bill to create the position of Judge Advocate General of the Navy was signed in 1880, when Colonel Remey was able to convince Congress that the Navy Department needed a permanent uniformed Judge Advocate General as Naval law was so unique.

In 1918, the positions of Navy Bureau Chief and Judge Advocate General were elevated to the rank of Rear Admiral. In 1947, the Navy created a "law specialist" program to allow line officers restricted duty to perform legal services.

By 1967 Congress decided to establish the Judge Advocate General's Corps within the Department of the Navy. The legislation was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on December 8th, 1967, and ensured Navy lawyer's status as members of a distinct professional group within the Navy, similar to physicians and chaplains.

Today the JAG provides legal and policy advice to the Secretary of the Navy in all legal matters concerning military justice, administrative law, environmental law, ethics, claims, admiralty, operational and international law, litigation and legal assistance.


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