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News | Dec. 2, 2014

Judge Advocate Shares Experiences with Chicago Legal Community

By Lt. j.g. Michael Wester, Region Legal Service Office Midwest

What exactly is “non-judicial punishment?”  When would a commanding officer use a summary court martial?  And how can the Navy ensure that a defendant’s due process rights are guaranteed in a court martial conducted at sea?

These and other questions were on display in a discussion about life as a Navy judge advocate led by Lt. Cmdr. Elizabeth O’Connor, Region Legal Service Office Midwest (RLSO MW), at an event hosted by the Chicago Bar Association’s (CBA) Military and Veteran’s Affairs Committee in downtown Chicago, Ill., Nov. 4, 2014.

The Military and Veteran’s Affairs Committee seeks to support active duty service members and veterans through discussions at public events and by engaging state policymakers.  Recently, the Committee was involved in successful efforts to persuade the Illinois General Assembly to make it easier for children of service members stationed in Illinois to transfer school credits in from out of state.

O’Connor’s talk was organized by Tom White and Mark Wojcik, co-chairs of the Military and Veteran’s Affairs Committee.  White is the director of the Veteran’s Legal Support Center and Clinic at the John Marshall Law School in Chicago, and Wojcik is a professor of law at the law school.

“We simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have Liz’s professionalism and knowledge on display,” said White, a former Army judge advocate of 25 years.  “Having an active duty service member in uniform talk about the important issues makes the presentation all the more effective.”

Before an audience of attorneys, law students and veterans, O’Connor talked about her time as a staff judge advocate on board Amphibious Squadron Seven and at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Ill.   She also discussed her current duties as professional development officer at RLSO MW.

For her part, O’Connor enjoyed interacting with the lively audience.

“Many people have some familiarity with the military, but not as much with the JAG community,” she said.  “So this was a great opportunity to both share my experience and learn about the experiences of others who have served in the other services.”

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