The 188th Judge Advocate Basic Course is here at the JAG School and just finished up their criminal law instruction. It's been pretty intense for them because we're not just flooding them with facts to regurgitate on an exam but rather asking them to actually do things. A court-martial doesn't just happen by itself, and we've been walking the new folks through everything from the charging process (in military terms this is called "preferral of charges") through trial and sentencing. As part of this, we've done a series of hands-on workshops with them to make sure everyone has some basic facility with the Rules for Court-Martial, the Rules of Evidence, and principles of advocacy. This is a thoroughly re-designed program since I was here for my own Officer Basic Course.
The little bit that I remember -- and mind you, it isn't much -- from OBC is a swirl of PowerPoint, reams of paper, and test after test. When I finally made it to the court-room as a prosecutor about 18 months later, I was terrible. I wasn't ready, I didn't remember anything, and it took far longer than it should have to get up to speed. Times have changed. The new OBC program, I think, is preparing these young officers to be able to actually add value as part of a trial team. From Day 1 on the job.
What's even better is that some of them are actually pretty good. There are folks who have taken trial advocacy courses in law school, but most of them have not (I didn't either). But everyone has shown a willingness to get on their feet, out of their comfort zone, and into the mix during our exercises and mock trials. It's been great to watch happen.
To the 188th, congrats on finishing your Crim Law instruction!