On November 19, 2020, The Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School hosted a commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the beginning of trial in the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg. Held in Decker Auditorium and over online means to a world-wide audience primarily comprised of students from the 212th Officer Basic Course, 69th Graduate Course, and University of Virginia Law School, this symposium featured seven notable speakers in three parts focused on the history, legal legacy, and future import of the Nuremberg trials.
The first part featured our celebrated Regimental Historian, Mr. Fred Borch, and a historian from the U.S. Holocaust Museum Memorial, Dr. William Meinecke. They provided us with a historical overview of the International Military Tribunal and the twelve subsequent U.S. tribunals. Dr. Meinecke focused his attention on the U.S. Tribunal Case #3, the Justice Case.
The second part featured two international experts, who happen to be friends of TJAGLCS: Professor Geoff Corn and Professor Gary Solis. Prof. Corn spoke about the contemporary implications of the shift from state responsibility to individual criminal responsibility and how the U.S. might consider incorporating war crimes into the Uniform Code of Military Justice for U.S. Service members. Prof. Solis spoke about the legal implications of the twelve U.S. tribunals such as the defense of superior orders.
The third part involved a look forward and included presentations from Mrs. Andrea Harrison, Prof. Tom Nachbar, and closing remarks from our very own TJAG, LTG Chuck Pede. Mrs. Harrison shared practical implications on accountability in armed conflict from an international perspective. Prof. Nachbar, a UVA law professor, presented on the importance of legal systems on the development of norms in armed conflict.
And finally, our 40th TJAG, LTG Pede concluded the day by challenging the audience to critically think of the legal tragedy of the Justice Case; where counsel deluded themselves and departed from their professional obligations. He aptly focused on the contemporary imperative of the JAG Corps’ North Star of Principled Counsel. LTG Pede challenged all to remember specific examples of “a crushed and discarded moral compass” to help us stay aware of the thin line between virtue and vice. He reminded us of our moral imperative to carry Principled Counsel forward.
Support from the TJAGLCS Alumni Association made possible a COVID-19 compliant dinner reception, hosted by the Commanding General, TJAGLCS, to thank our participants for their continued support of TJAGLCS and their contribution to the commemoration of this historic and seminal military tribunal.