#BZFriday: JAG Community Member Completes Clerkship at D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals

From Navy JAG Corps Public Affairs

Navy judge advocate Lt. Cmdr. Ben Adams took a new oath of office during a special ceremony at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., Aug. 13. Adams returned to active duty after completing a one-year clerkship at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Judge Thomas Griffith – who was nominated to the court in 2005 by President George W. Bush – administered Adams’s oath of office. Adams began his clerkship under Griffith in August 2018, and, during the past year, the court decided cases that dealt with high-profile, high-stakes issues, from immigration to workplace rules and civil rights.

“Working directly for a judge has given me a great opportunity to see firsthand how judges think about problems and how tough legal questions are resolved,” said Adams. “I’m interested in a career in military justice, and it has been illuminating to see what kinds of arguments and evidence are most likely to actually sway the outcome of a case.”

Adams, who hails from Columbus, Ohio, earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Pennsylvania. He commissioned as a Surface Warfare Officer Ensign through the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps program in 2007. He was the communications officer aboard USS Gettysburg (CG 64) from 2007 to 2009 and the navigator aboard USS Halyburton (FFG 40) from 2009 to 2011. Both ships were stationed at Mayport, Fla., and he completed three Fifth Fleet deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and counter-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia.

Adams spent one year on shore duty at the Navy Satellite Operations Center in Pt. Mugu, Calif. before enrolling in the Law Education Program. He studied at Stanford Law School from 2012 to 2015. As a judge advocate, he completed his First Tour Judge Advocate rotation and then served as defense counsel in Mayport from 2015 to 2018.

In 2018 – after receiving an offer to clerk – Adams enrolled in the Navy’s Career Intermission Program (CIP). CIP allows officers and enlisted Sailors – for a wide range of personal and professional reasons – to transfer out of the active component and into the Individual Ready Reserve for up to three years while retaining full health care coverage and base privileges.

“When I was offered the opportunity to clerk, it seemed like everybody agreed it was a good idea, but it was not clear how to make it work within the confines of the Navy or the JAG community,” said Adams. “CIP is valuable because of the flexibility it provides – once you are off active duty, you get time to do whatever it is that makes the most sense personally or professionally, hopefully without missing a beat.”

Adams adds that the leadership at his first command was particularly helpful, and he is grateful that they helped guide him through the process, determining the best way to time his intermission.

Adams’s next assignment is serving as the assistant officer in charge of Defense Service Office West, Detachment Bremerton. Reflecting on his experiences during the past year, he says, “the clerkship was a chance to see some of the best legal writing and advocacy in the country.”

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