Lt. Joshua Fiveson,
Defense Service Office West, recently served as an adjunct instructor for a joint-delegation to the Mexican Secretariat of National Defense. Fiveson
taught a two-week course on trial advocacy that was attended by 19 Mexican army attorneys, five Mexican criminal investigators, and four Peruvian army members — including two generals.
“This evolution was one of the most rewarding experiences of my career thus far in the JAG Corps,” Fiveson said. “Rare are the opportunities to represent your country in both a professional and diplomatic capacity,” he added, “and that’s exactly what we did.”
Other adjunct instructors included U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Col. Alexander Chotkowski, U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Daniel Schoeni and U.S. Air Force Maj. Patricia Encarnacion Miranda (pictured above). The joint delegation was coordinated by the Defense Institute for International Legal Studies (DIILS), U.S. Northern Command, and Air Forces Southern. Lt. Joshua Root, who currently is detailed as a DIILS action officer, played an integral role in planning and execution of the learning event.
DIILS is the lead defense security cooperation resource for professional legal education, training and rule of law programs for international military, and related civilians. Through mobile education teams, resident courses, and other programs, DIILS develops and implements effective security cooperation programs to build partner legal capacity, including equitable, transparent and accountable security sectors, civilian control of the military, respect for human rights, and good governance.
"DIILS seems to be the hidden gem of the Navy JAG Corps," he said. "Working at DIILS requires you to do everything I’ve ever found intriguing — teaching, traveling, and diplomacy. I would strongly recommend supporting one of their evolutions if the opportunity arises."
The program taught by the joint delegation focused on trial advocacy and included lessons on trial strategy, evidence, opening/closing statements, direct/cross-examination, witness testimony, expert testimony, impeachment, and case preparation, and the learning event culminated in a mock trial. The Mexican military is in a period of transition, Fiveson explained. They recently shifted toward a military justice system that is far more similar to the U.S. military's system. Therefore, developing the advocacy skills essential to an adversarial setting was of unique importance to the participants in the learning event.
"These were not your ivory tower, what-was-Kant’s-influence-on-Bulgarian-evidentiary-practice lessons; these were practical, what-will-I-use-in-tomorrow’s-case workshops that drew from the diversity of our teaching faculty’s background," said Fiveson. "Our amazing team was able to highlight the degree to which the U.S. military invests in its people — our most precious resource — and the lengths to which we are willing to help our allies do the same." Fiveson said the course was an overwhelming success, and he hopes it will help pave the way for future, similar learning events.
"At the end of the day, I’m absolutely humbled to have been a part of this evolution, not only because of the mission itself but also the sheer caliber of judge advocates that I was able to work beside," he said. "I am grateful to Lt. Root and Mr. Joseph Bowe for welcoming me into their program, and to the leadership at Defense Service Office West for supporting my role in this evolution."