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News | July 31, 2021

Naval Justice School Marks 75th Anniversary

By Navy JAG Corps Public Affairs

On July 6, the Navy JAG community commemorated the 75th anniversary of the founding of its Naval Justice School (NJS).  A special ceremony that included distinguished guests – as well as NJS students and staff – took place at Naval Station Newport, where NJS is headquartered.
“I am proud of NJS and our legacy of service to the Fleet to ensure that our leaders and Sea Service legal community are receiving the very best, up-to-date legal training to ensure the proper administration of military and naval justice,” said NJS Commanding Officer Capt. Shane Cooper while addressing the assembled crowd.  Cooper also serves as the Navy JAG Community’s special assistant for training.
The crowd included retired Rear Adm. Daniel O’Toole, former Chief Judge of the Department of the Navy and Assistant Judge Advocate General of the Navy; retired Rear Adm. Dennis McCoy, former NJS commanding officer and Assistant Judge General of the Navy (Civil/General Law); and retired Capt. Stacy Pedrozo, another former NJS commanding officer.  Current JAG Community leaders – including officers and enlisted personnel enrolled in the ongoing prospective-TRIAD leadership course – also took part in the ceremony.
In addition to a speaking program, the celebratory event included a special group photograph, a cake-cutting, and a ribbon-cutting for a new NJS historical display on the first deck of Helton-Morrison Hall.  A hallway mural – installed this summer – features key milestones in NJS and JAG Community history.  In the coming years, it will be viewed by thousands of NJS staff, students, and visitors from across the naval enterprise.
NJS opened its doors on July 1, 1946 in Port Hueneme, Calif. – at the close of World War II, and in response to a growing need for legal training for Fleet leaders.  Just four years later – in 1950 – Congress enacted the Uniform Code of Military Justice and NJS relocated to Newport, R.I.  In 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed legislation to establish the Navy JAG Corps, and five years later, in 1972, the Legalman rating was created.  In the decades that followed, the Navy JAG Community grew exponentially in both size and reach, and the need for legal education multiplied.
Today, NJS providing legal training to Sea Service leaders and legal professionals in order to promote justice, enhance Sea Service Fleet readiness, and deliver quality legal services.  In addition to its headquarters in Newport, NJS includes teaching detachments in San Diego, Calif., and Norfolk, Va., and a branch office in Charlottesville, Va.
The hallway mural – which also features the Navy JAG Community’s Governing Principles – was created in partnership with the Naval War College Museum.  As this partnership continues, future exhibits at NJS are likely to focus on the school’s history; the history of the Legalman rating; and the history of the U.S. Marine Corps and Coast Guard Judge Advocate communities.
The mural includes a group photo of the original staff and student body taken at Port Hueneme in July 1946.  After the conclusion of the speaking program during this summer’s event, those in attendance gathered to recreate that group photo, 75 years later.  The new photo also will have a prominent place in the school’s hallway.
“I think a photo of our group today will be a nice way to record and add to the rich history here, and one can only imagine how our successors will look upon those photos, and what NJS and its mission will be like when they do this again in 2046 for the 100th anniversary,” said Cooper.  “Perhaps one of our students or a younger instructor is presiding over the 100th anniversary!  If you could do me a favor – please send me an invitation – God willing, I’d be happy to be back here to celebrate it.”
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