Spotlight on Outstanding Young Military Service Lawyer Award Winners
By Mercedes Pino
Mercedes Pino is the Editor of The Affiliate and the Director of Career Services at the St. Thomas University School of Law in Miami Gardens, Florida.
Every year the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division (ABA YLD) recognizes the contributions of one member from each of the five uniformed services with the Outstanding Young Military Service Lawyer Award. Those recognized are men and women who have dedicated their lives to serving our country in various legal capacities. The following are the winners of the 2007–2008 Outstanding Young Military Service Lawyer Award.
Captain Jason S. Robertson, United States Air Force
Captain Jason S. Robertson serves as an instructor/litigator with the Judge Advocate General’s School at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama. Robertson received his Bachelor of Arts from James Madison University and went on to earn his Juris Doctor from Tulane University Law School.
Robertson was nominated for the award by Colonel David C. Wesley. According to Wesley, “[Robertson was] hand-selected by the Judge Advocate General to be the Air Force’s first-ever area defense counsel in the United States Central Air Force’s Area of Responsibility . . . . In a matter of weeks he expanded the defense services to six countries providing crucial services to a total of 20,000 Air Force members.” Wesley continued, “His weekly Right Start and First-Sergeant briefings educated thousands of Airmen on the Area of Defense Counsel Program.”
Wesley concluded by stating, “Captain Jason Robertson has been thoroughly tested by the United States Air Force and has passed these tests in such a way that compels his selection for the Outstanding Young Military Service Lawyer Award for 2007–2008.”
Captain Andrew K. Kernan, United States Army
Captain Andrew K. Kernan serves as Chief, Operational Law, Current Operations with the XVIII Airborne Corps in Iraq. Kernan, a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Oklahoma College of Law.
Kernan was nominated by Colonel Thomas E. Ayres. In describing Kernan, Ayres stated, “Before beginning his legal work, Drew was given the extremely unique opportunity to attend Ranger School. . . . It is extremely rare for an active duty Judge Advocate to go through Ranger School, but because of Drew’s demonstrated success as a leader and soldier, he was given that opportunity.”
According to Ayres, “When the XVIII Airborne Corps deployed to Iraq to assume command as the Multi-National Corps–Iraq, Drew was made the Chief, Operational Law, Current Operations.” Ayres explained, “He and his team answer all the immediate operational law questions that arise during the ongoing operations of 160,000 coalition forces. The legal advice that he and his team provide literally can mean the difference between life and death, success and failure, in crucial operations.”
Lieutenant Commander Donald L. Brown, United States Coast Guard
Lieutenant Commander Donald L. Brown served as a Judge Advocate, Assistant District Legal Officer & Chief Operations/Response Law Section with the Seventh Coast Guard District detailed Special Assistant U.S. Attorney to the Southern District of Florida. A graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, Brown earned his Juris Doctor from University of Miami School of Law.
Brown was nominated by Captain Mark R. Higgins. In describing Brown’s work for the Coast Guard, Captain Higgins explained, “In less than one year, he presented forty-one smuggling cases to South Florida Grand Juries to indict seventy-seven criminal defendants on felony charges. He obtained thirty-nine felony convictions by guilty plea and won two jury trials.”
Through his hard work and dedication Brown has earned respect and recognition for the work he does. Captain Higgins commented, “LCDR Brown, through his proven leadership and command presence in the field of international maritime law, has distinguished himself as the District’s premier resource and first choice for participation in bilateral negotiations and training of foreign partners in bilateral operations.”
Captain Jennifer S. Parker, United States Marine Corps
Captain Jennifer S. Parker serves as Deputy Staff Judge Advocate at the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Arizona. Parker received her Bachelor of Arts from Saint Louis University and her Juris Doctor from Saint Louis University School of Law.
Parker was nominated by Staff Judge Michael E. Sayegh, who discussed Parker’s ability to handle unique and difficult legal challenges, stating, “Without supervision or aid of a more senior defense counsel, and without the assistance of another military defense counsel or enlisted legal clerk, Captain Parker provided exemplary criminal defense advice and trial advocacy skills in her representation of sixty-five service members—nine of them facing serious felony charges—as well as providing other military defense services to over 157 service members.”
Sayegh added, “As a direct result of her leadership, no marine or sailor left MCAS, Yuma without the proper Laws of War and Rules of Engagement training, as well as having all their personal legal assistance needs attended to.”
Lieutenant Commander Dustin E. Wallace, United States Navy
Lieutenant Commander Dustin E. Wallace currently serves as the Assistant Staff Judge Advocate, Commander, Seventh Fleet. He graduated with his Bachelor of Arts from University of Central Oklahoma and went on to earn his Juris Doctor from University of Tulsa College of Law.
Wallace was nominated by Captain Michael J. Boock, then his Commanding Officer for his service as Division Officer, Operational Law and Instructor with the Naval Justice School in Newport, Rhode Island. Having nothing but the highest praise, Boock stated that “he has stood out as the best junior lieutenant commander I have served with in my twenty-three years of active duty.” Boock continued, “He helped create a one-week course to prepare judge advocates and legalmen for deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, which is consistently cited as the model for pre-deployment training specific to the legal mission in Iraq.”