HIGHLIGHTS OF COAST GUARD
JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERAL
U.S. COAST GUARD
PRESENTED TO THE 2007 MID-YEAR MEETING OF THE
AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION
THE UNITED STATES COAST GUARD
Since its founding in 1790, the Coast Guard has provided vital services and benefits to America because
of its blend of humanitarian, security and law enforcement, diplomatic, and military capabilities. A
unique armed force that carries out civil and military responsibilities touching on almost every facet of the
marine environment, the nation's "Guardian of the Seas" saves lives and property in peril, protects critical
infrastructure and resources, ensures homeland defense, safeguards maritime sovereignty, and defends
U.S. citizens, interests, and friends worldwide.
The nation's "maritime first responder," the Coast Guard is a crucial and responsive element of the
Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Its well-trained crews react to a wide variety of maritime
disasters, such as plane crashes, groundings, bridge and waterway accidents, and other calamities. Our
specially-trained National Strike Force teams around the nation provide a flexible and adaptive resource
to DHS, deploying swiftly to clean up oil spills and hazardous materials, assist during natural disasters
such as hurricanes and flooding, and work hand-in-hand with EPA, FEMA, state, local, and other key
agencies to save lives and protect property.
For our homeland to be secure, it must also be economically strong, as over 95% of U.S. trade comes by
sea. The Coast Guard ensures that our maritime transportation system and its waterways are safe. Our
waterways and maritime productivity depend on our aids to navigation systems -- buoys and markers,
lighthouses, and electronic navigation systems such as LORAN and Differential Global Positioning
System, along with Vessel Traffic Services in key ports, all combine to help keep our homeland waters
safe, secure, and productive.
As the lead agency for maritime homeland security and law enforcement, Coast Guard vessels and aircraft
patrol our offshore and coastal regions, "pushing our borders out" and extending our vigilance and
awareness of potential approaching threats, while enforcing immigration, customs, fisheries, and other
laws. We interdict thousands of illegal migrants each year, stop tons of drugs from reaching our streets,
and arrests hundreds of smugglers, while working in teams with DHS partners, other Federal agencies, the
Department of Defense, and state and local authorities to identify threats and secure our maritime borders
and our homeland. As one of the armed forces of the United States, we are a vital link in national
defense, from defending the homeland to overseas service in peace and war, from the conflicts of the 19th
Century to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The Coast Guard's mission includes:
Maritime & Homeland Security: Protect America's maritime borders from all intrusions by halting
the flow of illegal drugs, aliens, and contraband into the U.S. through maritime routes; preventing
illegal fishing; and suppressing violations of federal law in the maritime arena.
Maritime Safety: Eliminate deaths, injuries, and property damage associated with maritime
transportation, fishing, and recreational boating.
National Defense: Defend the nation as one of the five U.S. armed forces.
Maritime Mobility: Facilitate maritime commerce and eliminate interruptions and impediments to
the efficient and economical movement of goods and people, while maximizing recreational access
to, and enjoyment of, the water.
Protection of Natural Resources: Eliminate environmental damage and the degradation of natural
resources associated with maritime transportation, fishing, and recreational boating.
THE COAST GUARD LEGAL PROGRAM
The mission of the Coast Guard legal program is to deliver high-quality legal advice and support to the
people who carry out the varied functions of the Coast Guard to ensure their missions, operations, and
activities can be achieved within the spirit, as well as the letter, of the law.
The Coast Guard legal program reflects the organization and missions of the service itself. Legal services
are provided by 224 attorneys (65% military judge advocates and 35% civil service attorneys); 87
paralegals, legal technicians, and other support staff; and 37 members of the Coast Guard Reserve. Coast
Guard legal professionals are located in 13 offices and staffs of the Judge Advocate General at Coast
Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C., and in 20 legal offices at major Coast Guard units throughout
the country. Further, military attorneys rotate through non-legal assignments throughout the Coast Guard
in operational and major staff commands. Currently, among the 50 military attorneys serving “out-of-
specialty” are the Commander of the 9th Coast Guard District in Cleveland; the Commander of the 17th
Coast Guard District in Juneau; Deputy Assistant Commandant for Intelligence and Criminal
Investigations; Director, Global Maritime Intelligence Integration; and Special Assistant to the Vice
President of the United States. Other judge advocates serve as commanding or executive officers of
Coast Guard cutters, sectors, marine safety offices, training centers, and support commands.
The Coast Guard Legal Program is made up of three distinct organizational groups:
♦ Judge Advocate General. Military and civilian attorneys and support personnel are assigned
directly to the staff of the Judge Advocate General. The Judge Advocate General and these
offices and special staffs exercise program oversight over Coast Guard legal activities falling
within their practice areas. In addition, there are military attorneys assigned to the Department of
Homeland Security and the staffs of other government agencies. These include: Department of
Justice, Department of State, Department of Defense (U.S. Northern Command, Joint Interagency
Task Force South, Naval Justice School, Naval War College, Defense Institute of International
Legal Studies, and the U.S. Army’s Center for Law and Military Operations).
United States Coast Guard
Judge Advocate General (JAG) and
Judge Advocate General & Chief Counsel
Executive Assistant Chief Trial Judge
Court of Criminal Legal & Defense
Office of Maritime & Office of Office of Regulations Office of
International Law Environmental Law & Administrative Law General Law
(CG-0941) (CG-0942) (CG-0943) (CG-0944)
Prevention Law Div
Operations Law Div
Office of Claims & Office of Office of Office of Legal Policy Office of
Litigation Military Justice Legislation & Program Dev Procurement Law
(CG-0945) (CG-0946) (CG-0947) (CG-0948) (CG-0949)
Field Legal Offices & Staffs. Military and civilian attorneys and support staff are assigned to
geographically-aligned field commands, including the Maintenance and Logistics Command
Atlantic (Norfolk) and Pacific (Alameda), seven District Legal Offices (Boston, Miami, New
Orleans, Cleveland, Seattle, Honolulu, and Juneau), “Base” legal staffs (Coast Guard Academy,
Training Center Yorktown, Training Center Cape May, and Coast Guard Yard), the National
Pollution Funds Center, Personnel Service Center, and the two Facilities Design and Construction
Centers. These legal staffs report directly to their local Coast Guard commanders.
Hearing Office. The Coast Guard Hearing Office is an independent command under the
supervision of the Judge Advocate General and is responsible for the adjudication of civil
penalties for civil violations of maritime safety and environmental protection laws and
The Coast Guard employs both military officers designated as judge advocates and civil service attorneys.
Each brings a valuable and unique perspective to the Coast Guard legal practice.
About two-thirds of the attorneys in the Coast Guard are military officers. Each of these judge advocates
is a licensed attorney who has completed specialized training and qualification. Though designated with a
legal specialty, they also remain first and foremost Coast Guard officers and are eligible for assignment to
any duty or position (legal or otherwise) for which they are qualified.
Military attorneys come from two principal sources. Approximately seven officers per year graduate
from the Coast Guard's Advanced Legal Education Program. This program selects Coast Guard officers
to attend law school full-time with tuition fully or partially paid for by the Coast Guard. In 2006, Coast
Guard officers graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles; Suffolk University; Florida
Coastal School of Law; University of the District of Columbia; Tulane University; the University of San
Francisco; and the University of California, Hastings College of Law. Other military attorneys are
recruited through the Direct Commission Lawyer (DCL) program. This program offers commissions to
licensed attorneys and recent law school graduates who are directly appointed into the Coast Guard
Reserve and serve on active duty for a minimum of four years. Most DCLs enter the service with the
desire to remain beyond their initial commitment. More information regarding this program can be found
at http://www.uscg.mil/legal/ recruit/dclinterinfo.htm.
New Coast Guard judge advocates train with Navy and Marine Corps judge advocates at the Naval Justice
School. DCL officers also attend five weeks of training at the Coast Guard’s Leadership Development
Center in New London, Connecticut, and spend two weeks underway aboard Coast Guard cutters. Coast
Guard attorneys take advantage of continuing legal education opportunities at the service JAG schools, as
well as other government and private sector courses. Additionally, each year the Coast Guard selects one
judge advocate to attend the graduate (LLM) program at the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Legal
Center and School.
Civilian attorneys are recruited in accordance with current Coast Guard hiring practices with positions
filled by local legal offices as they occur. This process is closely coordinated with the civilian
management organization of the Coast Guard with an extensive recruiting outreach effort employed for
Paralegals and Legal Technicians
Most field legal staffs include enlisted personnel in the “yeoman” specialty that provides administrative
and clerical support. They also perform a variety of specialized legal functions supporting and assisting
attorneys. Upon completion of an initial 80-hour training program, a yeoman may be designated as a
Coast Guard Legal Technician. Legal Technicians are qualified to perform a variety of legal support
tasks such as legal research, basic legal writing, client intake and assessment, court clerk, and claims
assistance. The Coast Guard’s four week Legal Technician course was recently certified by the American
Council for Education for three college credits. A higher level of qualification, Coast Guard Paralegal,
is available, and approximately five Coast Guard members annually complete formal paralegal education
and are certified. Also, the Coast Guard employs civil service employees to serve as administrative
assistants, paralegals, and legal assistants.
The Coast Guard legal program recognizes the critical role technology plays in the modern practice of
law. All Coast Guard attorneys and support staff have immediate access to various technological tools
such as the Coast Guard Standard Workstation – a networked system providing the Microsoft Office suite
as well as various other specialized applications which automate previously manual tasks such as filling
out travel claims. The Coast Guard’s intranet is a web portal allowing users to customize their own
intranet display. Intranet web applications such as ethics training, training requests, on-line training, and
surveys are also available. Attorneys extensively use the capabilities of the Coast Guard Data Network
(email and Intranet) for communicating with their internal Coast Guard clients. Many on-line legal
research tools are available such as Westlaw and DocuShare. DocuShare is a Xerox product that provides
a wide range of document management and collaboration capabilities. It is our principal electronic
document management tool and contains over 40,000 documents. We also have deployed Law Manager,
a commercial legal-matter management application. This web-based system, accessible by all legal
offices via the web, provides state-of-the-art case management, scheduling, and timekeeping. The Law
Manager database is a great tool for statistical analysis of workload and services provided.
Our home page can be found at http://www.uscg.mil/legal/. This site provides public access to numerous
materials including the opinions of the Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals
(http://www.uscg.mil/legal/cca/), the Hearing Office (http://www.uscg.mil/legal/Coast Guardho) and
access to the Coast Guard Legal Assistance Web Portal (http://www.uscg.mil/legal/la/).
The Judge Advocate General notes the retirement of Chief Judge Joseph H. Baum from the Coast Guard
Court of Criminal Appeals and wishes him fair winds and following seas. Chief Judge Baum served on
the Court for over 21 years and is the longest serving military appellate judge in U.S. history. An article
celebrating Chief Judge Baum’s exceptional legal career appears at the end of this report.
THE PRACTICE OF LAW IN THE COAST GUARD
To accomplish our mission of providing the highest quality legal services and support to the activities
and people of the Coast Guard, the Coast Guard legal program is committed to master, and fully
develop, the following core competencies:
Legal Knowledge. To master the law.
Ethics & Professional Responsibility. To uphold the highest professional ethical standards of the
Responsiveness. To provide legal services and counsel in the right place, at the right time.
Advocacy. To zealously and skillfully represent our clients, effectively countering challenges to
lawful Coast Guard operations and activities.
Client Relationships. To partner with Coast Guard decision-makers at all levels, understanding their
business, giving them the legal capabilities they need to get their jobs done.
Leadership. To develop those skills needed to be leaders in the world’s premier maritime service.
Technology. To expertly use technology tools to deliver legal services to Coast Guard leaders and
people wherever they need them.
Coast Guard Practice Areas
The Coast Guard Legal Program is a “full-service” legal support organization, providing legal advice
and counsel for any and all requirements that the service’s decision makers place on us. This is done
within ten general legal practice areas: Criminal Law/Military Justice, Operations and Maritime Safety
& Environmental Protection, International Activities, Civil Advocacy, Environmental & Real Property
Law, Procurement Law, Organizational Law (includes: personnel, fiscal, installation & information law,
and Federal ethics & standards of conduct), Regulations & Administrative Law, Legislation, and Legal &
Defense Services (includes: legal assistance, criminal & appellate defense, and legal representation
involving the Physical Disability Evaluation System).
♦ Maritime and International Law
As the nation’s only armed force with domestic law enforcement authority, the Coast Guard is
involved daily in enforcing federal law in the areas of drug interdiction, immigration, marine
environmental protection, marine safety, fisheries, maritime security, and general federal laws
applicable at sea. The Office of Maritime and International Law at Coast Guard Headquarters plays a
prominent role in the development and implementation of Coast Guard policy in these areas and in
providing real-time advice to Coast Guard operational commanders. The Office of Maritime and
International Law also leads Coast Guard efforts in the international legal community as a fully
participating member of the U.S. delegation to the International Maritime Organization.
International Maritime Organization. Coast Guard attorneys serve as advisors or representatives of the
United States at meetings of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), headquartered in London,
UK, including the Marine Environmental Protection Committee, the Flag State Implementation
Committee, the Maritime Safety Committee, the Safety of Navigation Subcommittee, the Radio-
communications and Search and Rescue subcommittee, and the Legal Committee. Current issues on
which Coast Guard attorneys are working include:
Draft Wreck Removal Convention. Since 1995, discussions have taken place within IMO’s Legal
Committee about creating a convention that would fill gaps in international law regarding the
removal of wrecks that pose a hazard to navigation and a danger to the marine environment.
Coast Guard attorneys plan to represent the United States at the 2007 International Conference on
the Removal of Wrecks which will be held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 14 to 18 May 2007.
Fair Treatment of Seafarers. The IMO Legal Committee and the International Labour
Organization (ILO) Governing Body adopted joint Guidelines on the Fair Treatment of Seafarers
against a backdrop of a number of cases in which ships’ masters and seafarers were detained
ashore following incidents that occurred on their ships. Concerns with prolonged detention
include the negative impact it might have on the recruitment of qualified seafarers, the
disincentive it may create for open and full participation in casualty investigations, and potential
international consequences flowing from the uncertainty of the legal status of such detained
seafarers. The United States is unable to fully implement the Guidelines as presently drafted, but
the topic remains on the IMO Legal Committee’s agenda for continued monitoring and review.
2002 Protocol to the Athens Convention. The 2002 Protocol to the Athens Convention relating to
the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea, 1974, which addresses liability for
passengers and their luggage, significantly raised the limits on carrier liability and created a near
strict liability scheme for passenger injuries caused by a shipping incident. In October 2006, the
IMO Legal Committee adopted guidelines for implementation of the 2002 Protocol that would
allow States to ratify with a reservation permitting decreased insurance coverage and carrier
liability for acts of terrorism, in response to concerns that the protocol would not enter into force
because the insurance industry would be unable to meet the compulsory insurance requirements
and associated liability for acts of terrorism.
Other International Activities.
Annual Major Maritime Powers Meeting. Each year, a Coast Guard Attorney serves as a member
of the State Department-led delegation to the annual meeting of the major maritime powers. In
October of 2006, Russia hosted delegations from the United States, United Kingdom, France,
Germany, and Japan for a two day meeting that discussed a variety of issues confronting each
country relating to the law of the sea and issues before various international fora, especially the
International Maritime Organization.
♦ Maritime Safety, Security, and Environmental Protection
Preemption Litigation. The Coast Guard has a long history of regulating navigation and vessels
operating on navigable waterways under an extensive statutory and regulatory framework. Coast
Guard attorneys are currently working with Department of Justice attorneys on an appeal by the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts from a recent decision by the U.S. District Court for the
District of Massachusetts overturning Massachusetts oil spill legislation on the basis of Federal
preemption. The overturned provisions sought to regulate, among other things, various aspects of
design, operation, navigation, and manning for tank vessels operating in Massachusetts waters.
Right Whale Litigation. Protection of marine resources, including marine species such as North
Atlantic Right Whales, is a core Coast Guard mission. The Coast Guard works closely with the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on right whale protection, including
measures to reduce right whale ship strikes. The Coast Guard and NOAA were sued in Federal
district court in 2006 over right whale protection. The plaintiffs allege that speed restrictions
recently proposed by NOAA to reduce right whale ship strikes should have been instituted
through emergency rulemaking, and that the Coast Guard has failed to comply with Endangered
Species Act consultation requirements with respect to establishment of vessel routing measures.
Summary judgment briefing is complete. Oral argument is scheduled for March 2007.
Environmental Crimes. Coast Guard judge advocates continued to work very effectively with the
Department of Justice, Coast Guard program clients, and other enforcement agencies, to further
the Coast Guard’s highly successful utilization of criminal enforcement mechanisms for knowing
violations of international and domestic maritime pollution prevention standards. These efforts
yielded many high-profile criminal convictions for knowing violations related to intentional acts
of oil pollution. For example, on 19 December 2006, one of the largest and most financially
successful tanker companies in the world agreed to plead guilty to 33 felony counts related to
deliberate vessel pollution from nine ships and false pollution log entries in three additional ships,
in six U.S. ports around the nation. The company will pay a record $37 million, the largest
criminal penalty involving deliberate vessel pollution, and plead guilty to charges related to
illegal dumping of waste oil, criminal violations of the Clean Water Act/Oil Pollution Act and the
Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, conspiracy, false statements, and obstruction of justice.
This coordinated effort of criminal enforcement sends a strong deterrent message to the maritime
community, which reaffirms the Coast Guard’s commitment to its primary mission area of
♦ Maritime Coast Guard Operations
Maritime Operational Threat Response. Coast Guard attorneys led the development and
implementation of the President’s Maritime Operational Threat Response (MOTR) Plan. The
MOTR Plan, required by NSPD-41/HSPD-13, established principles and protocols to achieve a
coordinated U.S. Government response to threats against the United States and its interests in the
maritime domain. Implemented in early 2006, the U.S. Government has employed the MOTR
Plan to coordinate in real-time U.S. interagency policy, legal, and operational response in
hundreds of maritime cases around the world, including the interdiction of drugs, pirates, illegal
aliens, vessels engaged in illicit fisheries, suspected terrorist threats, and other maritime security
matters. Coordination through the MOTR plan has resulted in several hundred successful
extraterritorial arrests, and subsequent investigations and prosecutions in the U.S. and abroad.
Alien Smuggling Countermeasures Initiative (ASCMI). Each year, hundreds of maritime
smugglers make millions of dollars in illicit profit by transporting thousands of aliens to the
United States with virtual impunity because the existing law does not sufficiently punish or deter
such conduct. The ASCMI is intended to increase, enhance, and better leverage Coast Guard
authorities employed to punish and deter maritime migrant smuggling through a continuum of
legal action, including felony prosecutions (for failure to heave to, alien smuggling, and
attempted illegal re-entry after deportation), a biometrics collection proof of concept in the Mona
Passage between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic where nearly 50% of all migrants
interdicted at sea are encountered by U.S. law enforcement assets, enhanced enforcement of the
Unauthorized Entry in to Cuban Territorial Waters (UEC) regulation, and aggressive advocacy
for congressional action on a Maritime Alien Smuggling Law Enforcement Act (MASLEA).
Counterdrug Activities. Coast Guard attorneys, working with foreign partners and colleagues in
the Departments of State, Justice, Defense, and Homeland Security continue to develop and
implement interdiction strategies designed to stay at least one step ahead of international drug
traffickers. Enormously successful investigation, interdiction, and prosecution efforts arising
from a powerful maritime drug interdiction agreement between Colombia and the United States
forced traffickers to pursue new tactics. Efforts in 2006 focused on cooperation with the
Government of Ecuador to combat the increasing number of Ecuadorian-flagged vessels
smuggling cocaine originating in Colombia and bound for the United States, including the
negotiation and implementation of an operational arrangement to improve the efficiency of the
boarding operations and information sharing. These efforts directly facilitated the seizure of over
287,000 pounds of cocaine and 200 arrests at sea.
♦ Military Justice
As an armed force, members of the Coast Guard are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Coast Guard judge advocates serve as defense counsel and prosecutors for courts-martial and as military
judges. Judge advocates assigned as appellate government and defense counsel brief and argue cases
before the Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, and the
U.S. Supreme Court. Coast Guard attorneys at field offices serve as Staff Judge Advocates providing
advice on military criminal matters to field commanders.
Courts-martial and Article 15 cases
2006 2005 2004 2003 2002
General Courts-Martial 16 7 12 8 4
Special Courts-Martial 32 45 27 18 23
Summary Courts-Martial 31 21 12 20 11
Total Courts-Martial 79 73 51 46 38
Nonjudicial Punishment 1,442 1,411 1,694 1,658 1,379
Appellate Activity. The Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals issued 23 opinions in fiscal year (FY)
2006. This is compared to 24 for FY 2005 and 22 for FY 2004. The Court is composed of 1 full-time
and 5 collateral-duty appellate judges, both military and civilian.
♦ Legal and Defense Services
The Judge Advocate General is responsible for providing various legal services directly to Coast Guard
members (and other eligible beneficiaries). These services include physical disability advice and
representation, legal assistance relating to personal civil legal matters, and representation for defendants
Legal Assistance. In the past year, legal assistance attorneys provided counsel to over 8900 clients,
helping them with estate planning, family law, consumer law, and other personal legal issues.
Additionally, our offices maintained a vibrant Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.
Employing attorney and non-attorney personnel, volunteers filed over 2,480 returns (over 91%
electronically), which resulted in substantial tax preparation savings to Coast Guard personnel, retirees,
In cooperation with the Coast Guard's primary basic training center at Cape May, the Legal Assistance
Headquarters Office recently launched an initiative to ensure all servicemembers are aware that they have
free access to legal assistance. Each graduate is personally contacted and provided an overview of the
program including the rights and benefits that servicemembers are entitled to under the Servicemembers'
Civil Relief Act.
Physical Disability Evaluation program. The number of disability cases referred to the Coast Guard’s
Physical Disability Evaluation System increased 20% for the third year in a row. While many cases this
past year required some form of informal resolution, very few cases were contested and required formal
adjudication. Of the 310 new cases, less than 10% were formally adjudicated.
Appellate Activity. At the end of 2006, legal and defense services briefed 25 cases before the Coast Guard
Court of Criminal Appeals. Additionally, legal counsel is made available to Commanding Officers or
Officers-in-Charge during the Relief for Cause process.
♦ Regulations and Administrative Law
The Coast Guard is a regulatory agency charged with developing and enforcing federal regulations
needed to ensure the safety of marine navigation, protect the environment, conduct search and rescue,
enforce laws & treaties, and increase marine safety & security. Coast Guard attorneys provide advice to
field commanders on the implementation of existing regulations and their enforcement and applicability.
The Office of Regulations and Administrative Law at Coast Guard Headquarters manages the regulatory
agenda for the Coast Guard and oversees all regulatory initiatives. Coast Guard attorneys at Maintenance
& Logistics Commands and Districts review field regulations with the advice of Office of Regulations
and Administrative Law staff attorneys. These attorneys also review denials of requests under the
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), act as general FOIA and Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA)
advisors to the Coast Guard, and respond to complaints against the Coast Guard filed with the Small
Coast Guard rulemaking continues to balance the need for increased national security measures with its
traditional maritime safety and environmental protection functions. During this reporting period, the
Coast Guard worked extensively with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to develop a
rulemaking intended to improve security at U.S. port facilities. Additionally, we undertook a significant
restructuring of the rules related to the issuance of seaman’s documents.
Transportation Workers Identification Credential in the Maritime Sector. The Coast Guard has
partnered with the Transportation Security Administration to issue regulations implementing the
Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) provisions found in the Maritime
Transportation Security Act (MTSA). A TWIC is a biometric identification card that will provide
a high level of assurance that the individual presenting the card is the same individual who
applied for and received the card. The publication of a final rule on January 25, 2007, represents
the first of a two-phase approach designed to reach all workers who access facilities subject to
regulation under the MTSA. During the first phase, those seeking unescorted access to secure
areas of MTSA-regulated vessels or facilities, and all merchant mariners, will be required to
undergo a security background check and carry a valid TWIC. The second phase of the
rulemaking process will address the technical reader requirements for the TWIC cards.
Merchant Mariner Credentials. In conjunction with the TWIC final rule, the Coast Guard issued
a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking that proposes to significantly change the
appearance of Coast Guard-issued merchant mariner credentials (MMC). The merchant
mariner’s document (MMD), merchant mariner’s license, certificate of registry (COR), and
STCW endorsement would be consolidated and appear on a single MMC. In addition, the
rulemaking proposes to: streamline the application process by removing the requirement that
mariners appear in person at a Coast Guard Regional Exam Center; use data collected by TSA
during background checks; reduce the number of issuance fees charged; and allow mariners to
apply for their MMC entirely by mail. The Coast Guard anticipates this final rule will be issued
in the fall of 2007.
Coast Guard attorneys within the Office of Legislation work closely with other Coast Guard directorates,
the Department of Homeland Security, the Office of Management and Budget, and other executive branch
agencies to develop the Coast Guard’s legislative program, including drafting the Administration’s annual
Coast Guard Authorization Act, as well as with congressional staff to secure enactment of the program.
Coast Guard Authorization Bills. While Congress has been active in sponsoring and acting on Coast
Guard legislation recently, the 109th Congress adjourned without enacting the Coast Guard legislative
proposal for fiscal year 2007. The Office of Legislation has prepared a large bill for the fiscal year 2008
cycle, incorporating provisions previously cleared by the Administration, as well as a number of new
initiatives. Highlights include a proposal for the Maritime Alien Smuggling Law Enforcement Act and
legislation to implement International Maritime Organization’s standards for the protection of seafarers.
SAFE Port Act. Coast Guard Attorneys participated in the DHS Legislative task Force on the H.R. 4954,
the "Security and Accountability For Every Port Act of 2006," or the "SAFE Port Act" which was signed
in to law in October 2006 (Pub. L. No. 109-347). The Act strengthens the Government's ability to protect
the nation's seaports and maritime commerce from attack by terrorists.
MARPOL Convention. The MARPOL Convention is the global agreement to control pollution from
ships. Coast Guard attorneys worked with other federal agencies to prepare draft legislation to implement
MARPOL Annex VI, which regulates air pollution from ships. This proposal, a key step in Senate
ratification of Annex VI, earned Administration approval and was submitted to Congress in the fall of
2005. While the draft bill was not passed in the 109th Congress, Coast Guard attorneys continue to review
and comment on various legislative drafts.
Intelligence Authorization Act. Coast Guard attorneys continue to work with the Office of the Director of
National Intelligence on the annual Intelligence Authorization Act. Coast Guard input into the
Intelligence Authorization Act proposed critical language to correct an inadvertent change to the Coast
Guard’s status within the Intelligence Community made by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism
Prevention Act of 2004.
♦ Civil Advocacy, Claims & Litigation
Coast Guard attorneys actively manage an extensive claims program under several federal statutes. These
involve not only adjudicating claims made against the agency, but also collecting monies owed the
government due to penalties assessed for violations of federal law, for damage to Coast Guard property, and
for cleanup & recovery costs. Coast Guard attorneys are actively involved in a wide variety of civil
litigation, from simple tort defense to Constitutional challenges. Two judge advocates are assigned to the
Department of Justice where they obtain intensive civil and admiralty litigation experience and provide
valuable Coast Guard experience to DOJ attorneys.
United States v. Commonwealth of Massachusetts (1st Cir.). In January 2005, the United States filed a
complaint seeking invalidation of parts of a Massachusetts oil spill prevention law that encroaches upon
or conflicts with various federal laws enforced by the Coast Guard relating to the operation and manning
of tank vessels. In July 2006, the Court declared the challenged portions of the state law preempted and
invalid under the Supremacy Clause, and permanently enjoined Massachusetts from enforcing the law.
The defendants appealed to the First Circuit in September 2006. Briefing for the appeal is proceeding on
Northern Voyager Ltd Partnership v. Thames Shipyard & Repair Co. and United States (1st Cir.). The
case, originally dismissed at summary judgment, involves claims arising out of the sinking of the F/V
Northern Voyager in November 1997. The fishing vessel began flooding when its starboard rudder
detached. The Coast Guard responded and rescued the vessel’s crew. The vessel owner claimed that the
shipyard was negligent in servicing the rudder, and that the Coast Guard interfered with the efforts of a
salvor to save the vessel. In August 2005, on remand, the case was tried to an advisory jury, which
returned its verdict in favor of the United States and co-defendant. In September 2006, the Court (District
of Massachusetts) entered judgment consistent with the advisory jury, holding that the Coast Guard’s
actions did not result in increased harm to the vessel. The plaintiffs have appealed to the First Circuit.
Compagnie Maritime Marfret, et al., v. United States, et al. (D.P.R). In June 2002, the M/V Providence
grounded at the entrance to San Juan Harbor. The vessel owners and insurers seek $4.5 million in
damages and lost profits from the United States. The co-defendant harbor pilot has settled with the
Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs allege Coast Guard negligence in the positioning, maintenance, and design of the
aids to navigation system. The United States maintains that the positioning, maintenance, and design of
its aids to navigation systems are discretionary functions for which the United States has not waived
sovereign immunity, and that the plaintiffs’ and pilot’s negligence in navigating the vessel was the sole
cause of the grounding. The Court continued the trial until March 2007, while it considers the
Government’s motion to dismiss.
Cassidy v. Ridge (2nd Cir.). Plaintiff filed his complaint in October 2004, challenging the Marine
Transportation Security Act (MTSA) regulations that require screening of ferry passengers and
automobiles. Plaintiff alleged that random searches conducted on LCT ferries pursuant to MTSA are
unreasonable searches in violation of the Fourth Amendment. In February 2005, the district court granted
the Government’s motion to dismiss, finding the screening falls within the special needs exception to the
Fourth Amendment’s search warrant requirement, and that the measures implemented are akin to the
security measures employed in the airline travel industry. Plaintiff appealed and in November 2006, the
Second Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision.
Cranford v. U.S (11th Cir.). In August 2003, the plaintiffs struck a submerged wreck in Mobile Bay.
Plaintiffs claimed the Coast Guard was negligent in marking and not removing the wreck. In December
2005, the District Court (Southern District of Alabama) granted the Government’s motion for summary
judgment finding the Coast Guard’s decisions in how to mark and whether to remove a wreck under the
Wreck Act were discretionary functions for which the United States has not waived sovereign immunity.
On appeal, the 11th Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision.
♦ Environmental & Real Property Law
As with other agencies and organizations, the Coast Guard complies with many environmental
obligations. Attorneys located in the Office of Environmental and Real Property Law and in the Atlantic
and Pacific Maintenance & Logistics Commands provide specialized environmental law advice to other
Coast Guard programs, particularly the engineering environmental compliance staffs. Attorneys in field
offices provide "front-line" counsel to their commanders regarding their compliance obligations and
responsibilities. When issues arise, Coast Guard environmental lawyers work closely with their
counterparts in enforcement agencies to reach acceptable solutions. Our counsel provides advice and
support for all Coast Guard real property matters including its management, acquisition, and disposal.
Shore-Side Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) Facilities. Coast Guard Captains of the Port (COTPs) issue letters
of recommendation for moving hazardous cargoes in U.S. waters. With the proposed development of
many shore-side LNG facilities across the country, environmental evaluation of the potential impact of
these facilities has become a major focus for Coast Guard clients. National Environmental Policy Act
(NEPA) documentation for these COTP decisions can be quite complex and can generate significant
public controversy. Attorneys in the Office of Environmental Law worked closely with Headquarters
clients and field attorneys to evaluate the Coast Guard’s participation as a cooperating agency in the
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s NEPA process.
Water Training Areas. As the Coast Guard equipped its smaller vessels with crew-served weapons to
respond to potential threats in the maritime environment, additional training needs became apparent. In
order to train crews assigned to vessels on Great Lakes, the Ninth Coast Guard District proposed
establishing a number of water training areas for use during short practice firing periods. When the
proposal generated significant interest from the boating public, attorneys in the Office of Environmental
Law assisted the field command in conducting a series of public meetings in Great Lakes communities.
After receiving nearly one thousand public comments and several notices of intent to sue from several
non-governmental organizations, the Coast Guard withdrew the proposal. This issue provides a good
example of the difficulty that military training operations face across the country due to the competing
pressures for access to open areas. This is the first time that the Coast Guard has engaged with the public
on access to areas for military training.
♦ Procurement Law
Coast Guard procurement attorneys practice at the cutting edge of federal procurement law, contributing to
the best performance capabilities for Coast Guard missions through successful acquisitions and effective
representation in contract litigation before the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the
Department of Transportation Board of Contract Appeals (DOTBCA). Coast Guard attorneys in the Office
of Procurement Law at Headquarters, in the two Maintenance & Logistics Commands, and in some field
legal offices, provide contract law advice to management, technical, and contracting officials at all levels of
the Coast Guard. This ranges from daily advice to field level contracting officers to advice on major
construction, acquisition, and procurements. Advice is provided from the earliest planning stages of
procurement through contract negotiation and award as well as through contract administration, which may
include action on claims and contract litigation.
The Office of Procurement Law has provided counsel to the Deepwater Program, advising proactively
throughout its maturation providing for recapitalizing multiple performance capabilities using a “system
of systems” approach. Attorneys have provided counsel in support of inter-related maritime domain
awareness programs and projects such as Nationwide Automatic Identification Systems (short-range
tracking) and Rescue 21 (search and rescue communications). Procurement law attorneys have provided
advice in support of the completion of the Great Lakes Icebreaker.
Coast Guard procurement lawyers represented the agency in a range of protests and appeals before the
GAO and the DOTBCA and, in coordination with Justice Department counsel, in contract cases before
federal courts. We have ensured that optimally transparent and competitive processes were correctly used
while agency service and supply needs were fully satisfied without disruption.
♦ Organizational Law
This practice area encompasses a wide range of legal subjects with perhaps the largest number of clients.
Coast Guard attorneys provide legal advice on issues including federal fiscal law, gift acceptance and
standards of ethical conduct for government employees, military and civilian personnel law, civil rights,
health care, Privacy Act, and the release of information. To some extent, Coast Guard attorneys do this
work wherever they are. Attorneys at the Office of General Law at Coast Guard Headquarters and at the
Maintenance and Logistics Commands provide advice to the Coast Guard on matters involving the Merit
Systems Protection Board, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and labor relations. Attorneys
at Coast Guard Headquarters handle all litigation in those matters.
Personnel Law. July 2006 through January 2007, Coast Guard Headquarters employment and labor law
attorneys handled 38 Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Merit Systems Protection Board
cases, as well as assisting other Federal Agencies cases in the appellate courts. These cases carry
estimated potential liabilities of over $12,000,000.00, not including attorney and litigation fees.
♦ FIELD LEGAL OPERATIONS
The Coast Guard legal program includes attorneys and legal support staff in 20 offices located throughout
the United States. These legal staffs work in close cooperation with the Judge Advocate General’s legal
staff and offices to insure the consistent and responsive delivery of legal services in support of Coast
♦ The First Coast Guard District Legal Office. The First Coast Guard District legal office,
headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, is responsible for Coast Guard operations on the Northeast coast
from central New Jersey to the Canadian border, and includes the Hudson River, Lake Champlain, and
several major seaports. The First District is one of the Coast Guard’s most operationally diverse Districts,
having a hand in every major Coast Guard mission, from the regulation of industry in the ports of New
York and Boston, to fisheries enforcement off the coast of Massachusetts, search and rescue in Long
Island Sound, and ice breaking in Maine. The practice of law for the seven active duty, four reserve, and
one civilian Coast Guard attorney assigned to the First District Legal Office is likewise diverse, ranging
from operational law advice, military justice, and legal assistance to the more than 2,500 Coast Guard
member workforce within the First District.
Environmental Crimes. First District judge advocates assisted the U.S. Department of Justice and various
U. S. Attorney’s Offices in the prosecution of several environmental crimes cases. Three First District
attorneys are designated as Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys to support these prosecutions, including the
settlement in the case of United States vs. Overseas Shipholding Group, Inc (OSG). OSG agreed to plead
guilty to several violations of Federal law in the illegal dumping of oil wastes off the coast of
Massachusetts, Maine, and other places, and agreed to pay a fine of $37 million, the largest in world
history. In addition, a First District judge advocate negotiated a first-of-its-kind memorandum of
agreement (MOA) with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to provide the Coast Guard
meaningful input into the distribution of funds set aside as community service payments in environmental
crimes prosecutions. The MOA will more effectively target court-ordered mariner education programs to
help reduce marine pollution.
Massachusetts Military Reservation. The 2005 Report of the DOD Base Realignment and Closure
Commission recommended the realignment of the Otis Air National Guard Base on Cape Cod, MA, so
that the Air Force’s 102nd fighter wing would be transferred and the base’s airstrip closed. Closure of the
airstrip would have required Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod, the primary air search and rescue station
in the Northeast, to move, or to assume full operation of the airfield at exorbitant cost. First District judge
advocates, working with the Air Force, the National Guard Bureau, and the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts, negotiated a landmark Memorandum of Agreement that created a cost-sharing agreement
between affected parties that will allow the airfield to remain in operation for the foreseeable future.
Auxiliary Legal Assistance Attorneys. First District attorneys, working with the national Coast Guard
Auxiliary program managers, developed an innovative, pilot project allowing Auxiliarists who are also
attorneys to be trained, qualified, and certified as legal assistance attorneys pursuant to 10 U.S.C. 1004.
Thus far, four Auxiliarists have been so certified, greatly enhancing the ability of the First District legal
office to provide legal assistance support to military personnel and their dependents throughout the
♦ The Fifth Coast Guard District Legal Office. The Fifth District legal office is contained within the
Operational Law Branch of the Coast Guard Maintenance and Logistics Command, Atlantic. Coast
Guard judge advocates perform dual functions for both the Fifth District and Atlantic Area for operational
and mission law matters, and the Branch Chief is also designated as the Fifth District legal officer and
Staff Judge Advocate for subordinate units. Judge advocates continued a strong initiative in support of
environmental laws and policy in the district. They developed and met an aggressive program to provide
on-site Clean Water Act and environmental law training at each small boat station within the Fifth
District. They also evaluated alternatives for requiring newly permitted liquefied natural gas facilities to
provide organic maritime security.
♦ The Seventh Coast Guard District Legal Office. The Seventh Coast Guard District legal office,
headquartered in Miami, Florida, provides legal oversight in an area of responsibility covering South
Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and the Caribbean. The legal office is comprised of seven active Coast Guard
attorneys, one reserve attorney, and one civilian attorney. The office is divided functionally into three
sections: Response Law, Prevention Law, and Legal Assistance.
Response Law Section. Provides advice on law enforcement and search and rescue matters to best
advance both mission execution and mission support within the District. Response attorneys provide real-
time advice on the interaction of Coast Guard forces with the 28 nations in and around the Caribbean with
whom the United States has bilateral agreements.
The Response Section, in cooperation with Coast Guard Headquarters and other stakeholders including
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and the U.S
Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico, developed the Caribbean Border Interagency Group
Migrant Smuggling Prosecution Standard Operating Procedures to provide detailed guidance for
detection, investigation, and prosecution of offenses within the migrant smuggling vectors of the
Dominican Republic and the Puerto Rico region. As a result, there has been a marked increase of
maritime alien smuggling cases referred and accepted for prosecution.
Seventh District Ops/Response Law attorneys are a key component of the South Florida Anti-Migrant
Smuggling Working Group, a multi-agency working group lead by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the
Southern District of Florida. The working group helps focuses migrant interdiction resources to develop
strong case packages for successful prosecutions, align multi-agency investigative efforts, and to
coordinate innovative solutions to the persistent and deadly business of migrant smuggling in the Straits
of Florida. A Seventh District Ops/Response attorney is detailed full-time as a Special Assistant U.S.
Attorney (SAUSA) to prosecute maritime migrant smuggling cases and is a critical member of the
In the past six months, Response attorneys were involved in 11 Counter-Drug (CD) cases that resulted in
the prosecution of 68 suspected narcotics smugglers.
The District legal officer serves as the senior legal advisor to the Director, Homeland Security Task Force
- Southeast (HSTF-SE) which prepares for and is activated in anticipation of a Caribbean Mass Migration.
An Ops/Response Law attorney also serves on the legal staff and coordinates 24x7 duty attorney support
to HSTF-SE. The Seventh District SAUSA serves as one of the lead prosecutors assigned to the task
Prevention Law Section. The Prevention Law Section provides advice on environmental, regulatory,
administrative, marine safety/security, and ethics issues. The section also provides support to local U.S.
Attorney's Offices and the Department of Justice (DOJ) Environmental Crimes Section on ongoing
criminal investigations and prosecutions for marine pollution violations.
In the past six months, the Prevention Law Section has drafted and reviewed approximately 120
regulations which is a 56% increase over last year. These regulations restrict and control vessel
movements and establish limited access areas around critical infrastructure, cruise ships, event
participants, and ships carrying hazardous cargo to help ensure the safety and security of those platforms.
For example, the section drafted a regulation restricting vessel movement during the President’s visit to
Miami and continues its work on a Regulated Navigation Area that accounts for facility and vessel safety
concerns at the Port of Savannah’s Liquefied Natural Gas Facility. Additionally, the section processed
and/or responded to 101 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, a 126% increase from the entire
previous year; provided 59 clients with ethics advice, a 66% increase from the previous six months;
responded to 25 subpoenas or requests for depositions, a 20% increase; and reviewed 39 administrative
investigations or claims.
Legal Assistance Section. Hurricanes, property taxes, insurance issues, and condo conversions over the
past two years have increased the need for legal assistance. Family law matters continued to be high due
to stress and marital difficulties associated with long deployments. Deployable units were provided with
on-site services and document preparation to ensure readiness. The Legal Assistance Section also
supported the implementation of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Electronic Tax Filing
(ETF) Programs, attendance at Command “Family Days,” reserve “all-hands,” transition assistance
seminars, and health fair events.
Military Justice/Personnel Law. The Seventh District legal office provides legal support and
prosecutorial support to field commands on issues ranging from general courts-martial through
administrative Non-Judicial punishment under Article 15 of the UCMJ. All of our military attorneys are
judge advocates, and as such, also have responsibilities in the military justice system. Although serving
as a prosecutor in courts-martial is an extremely important and challenging duty, an attorney handling
military justice cases must still manage their regular assignments as well. Recent cases have involved
rape allegations, novel charges for nitrous oxide (N2O) use and distribution, and assault.
♦ The Eighth Coast Guard District Legal Office. The Eighth Coast Guard District legal office is
located in New Orleans, Louisiana. The area of operations includes the Gulf of Mexico as well as all of
the states bordering the U.S. Western Rivers from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico.
Eighth District attorneys assisted the Department of Justice with prosecution of the operator of the M/V
Texas Treasure and the ship’s chief engineer. The operator pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice, and
the chief engineer pleaded guilty to making false statements during a U.S. Coast Guard investigation into
whether the M/V Texas Treasure had illegally discharged waste oil and deliberately bypassed its pollution
prevention equipment. The operator was sentenced in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of
Texas to pay $300,000 in criminal penalties and to four years probation. Half of the fines received will be
earmarked for a community service program to benefit environmental programs covering the waters off
Corpus Christi. The ship's chief engineer was sentenced to three years of supervised probation.
District staff attorneys are also assisting the Department of Justice with the criminal prosecution of the
master of the M/V ZIM Mexico III under 18 USC § 1115. The prosecution stems from an incident in
which the ship collided with a pier in Mobile, AL. As a result of the collision, a gantry crane collapsed,
killing one individual. 18 USC § 1115, a steamboat-era statute, criminalizes the misconduct or neglect of
ship officers. Previous prosecutions involving the statute were based on the officer’s duty (of
seamanship) to those on board the vessel. This prosecution is the first time 18 USC § 1115 is being
applied to someone whose negligence caused the death of an individual who was not a passenger, or
crewmember, aboard the vessel.
As reported in the Coast Guard’s previous highlights earlier this year, the coastal regions of the Eighth
Coast Guard District were heavily impacted by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Although it has been 17
months since Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, attorneys from the district
legal office continue to work on hurricane recovery-related issues. Over the past six months, the legal
staff has: worked with local jurisdictions to execute state abandonment statutes so that storm-damaged,
and unclaimed, vessels can be declared ownerless and disposed of as debris (or sold in the event there is
any residual scrap value); developed a process for notifying parishes and counties of the recent
presidential declaration regarding continued federal funding of recovery actions and implemented a
system to ensure that jurisdictions required to make cost-share commitments do so in advance of any
recovery-related contracting action; and ensured that storm-related pollution incidents were thoroughly
investigated in anticipation of claims for compensation through the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.
In a criminal prosecution arising out of an oil spill, attorneys from the Eighth District legal office are
working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office (Eastern District of Louisiana) on a case involving a spill of
between two and twenty barrels from a production platform located in state waters. The spill was
believed to have been caused by the failure of a mechanical device known as a high level alarm. The
Minerals Management Service, also providing support for the prosecution, had issued a safety alert on the
particular type of alarm indicating that certain adjustments were necessary to prevent system failure. The
case alleges that the spill occurred because the defendant chose to bypass the alarm system rather than fix
it (which would have required suspending operations). When the defendant became aware of a possible
spill from their platform they conducted an overflight of the environmentally sensitive area where their
platform was located. (The area has served as a rookery for pelicans and been under federal oversight for
approximately 20 years.) Despite impacts observed during the overflight, the defendant did not consider
the spill to be significant and initially did not provide any spill-related information to authorities.
Government flights later revealed that the rookery had been destroyed, Breton Island would have to be
rebuilt, and two decades of work to develop this environmentally sensitive area had been adversely
impacted by the spill and the delay in reporting. The federal government is attempting to hold the
defendant criminally liable for the damage created by its willful negligence and exacerbated by its failure
♦ The Thirteenth Coast Guard District Legal Office. The Thirteenth District legal office,
headquartered in Seattle, Washington, supports Coast Guard operational units within Washington,
Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. These units cover more than 460,000 square miles of Pacific Ocean. The
Thirteenth District provides maritime safety and security to the largest passenger ferry system, the third
largest commercial port and third largest U.S. Naval homeport in the Nation. The legal staff includes four
active duty attorneys, one civilian Coast Guard attorney, one reserve attorney, and two support personnel.
Highlights of legal practice since August 2006 include:
Failing to Maintain an Accurate Oil Record Book. IRIKA MARITIME SA was sentenced last month in
U.S. District Court in Tacoma to a $500,000 fine, a special assessment of $250,000 in community service
payments and four years of probation for failing to maintain an accurate oil record book in an attempt to
conceal illegal discharges of oily sludge directly into the ocean. Under the terms of the plea agreement
approved by the court, the $250,000 special assessment will be split equally between the Columbia River
Estuarine Coastal Fund and the Puget Sound Marine Conservation Fund. The M/V Irika is a 623-foot
long Panamanian flagged ocean going bulk carrier. The court also approved a government motion
requesting that one half the $500,000 fine, be awarded to the whistle blower. The Second Engineer told
authorities he had objected to the waste dumping, but his protests were ignored by the Chief Engineer
Ilias Dimitriou Ntais. Mr. Ntais pleaded guilty to failing to maintain an accurate record book on
November 3, 2006, and was sentenced in December to a $2,500 fine.
Intoxicated Master Banished for Six Months. The Master of the M/V H. Hassan Yardim, a Turkish bulk
carrier ship, pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court of Oregon to a one-count information charging him
with operating a motor vessel while under the influence of alcohol and was sentenced to one year
probation, with the condition that he not return to the United States without the permission of the
Attorney General for six months. He was also ordered to pay a fine of $l,000.
Hoax SAR case. In October, a federal grand jury in Portland returned an indictment charging Jesse Walon
Murphy with one count of conspiracy and one count of causing a false distress message to be
communicated to the U.S. Coast Guard, in connection with an incident in which he attempted to fake his
own death at sea to avoid facing the consequences of pending state criminal charges in California. Mr.
Murphy is still at large and is now wanted by both the State of Idaho and the Coast Guard Investigative
Service (CGIS) on the federal hoax charge.
Seaman’s Manslaughter Prosecution. The Thirteenth District legal office continues to provide litigation
support and agency assistance in the prosecution of a charter boat captain on three counts of seaman's
manslaughter in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1115. Each count carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in
prison. On September 19, 2005, the P/V SYDNEY MAE II, an uninspected passenger vessel (charter
boat), capsized with five people onboard returning from a chartered fishing trip off the coast of Oregon.
Three passengers were killed when the vessel's captain ignored repeated warnings from the Coast Guard
to stay out of the regulated boating area surrounding the Umpqua River Bar entrance due to extreme
weather and hazardous conditions. As a result of the captain's failure and negligence, the vessel was
struck by a large wave within the regulated boating area and all five occupants were thrown into the
ocean. Only the captain was wearing a life jacket. The captain pled guilty to three counts of seaman’s
manslaughter last month and sentencing is scheduled in April.
Oil Spill. In October 2006, the case against ConocoPhillips and its wholly owned subsidiary, Polar
Tankers, the owner of the tank vessel Polar Texas that spilled more than 1,000 gallons of crude oil into
Puget Sound's Dalco Passage, was settled. ConocoPhillips was required to pay more than $2.3 million in
costs and penalties to the federal government. This figure represents 100 percent of all costs that the
federal government incurred during clean-up operations in Dalco Pass and Puget Sound. In addition,
ConocoPhillips will pay an $80,000 civil penalty under the federal Clean Water Act, close to the
maximum administrative civil penalty the Coast Guard could have sought in this case. The Washington
State Department of Ecology also settled a $540,000 claim against ConocoPhillips under state law.
♦ The Fourteenth Coast Guard District Legal Office. The Fourteenth Coast Guard District is the
largest in terms of geographic size, including over 23 million square nautical miles, amounting to almost
40% of the entire Exclusive Economic Zone of the United States. The Fourteenth District staff is located
in Hawaii on the island of Oahu. This legal office, consisting of three military attorneys, one civilian
legal assistance attorney, one civilian paralegal, and one legal yeoman, provides legal services and
command advice to operational units located in Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, Saipan, Japan, and
Because the Fourteenth District encompasses United States territories and Pacific island possessions,
including Guam, American Samoa, Midway, Wake, Palmyra, Kingman Reef, and the Commonwealth of
Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), as well as freely associated states, including the Republic of Palau, the
Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia, the practice of law can be
exceedingly complex. The application of laws regarding coastwise shipping, port security, fisheries,
customs, and environmental protection vary greatly depending on location, which can complicate
enforcement actions. For example, the Captain of the Port zone in Guam is unique in that it is outside the
customs territory of the United States and foreign fishing fleets may legally land and sell their catches.
In the second half of 2006, the Fourteenth District legal office continued to work closely with its
Department of Homeland Security partners and Department of Justice attorneys in enforcing federal
criminal laws throughout the Pacific Rim. In particular, the Fourteenth District legal office continued to
pursue a vibrant outreach program with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Honolulu. Three uniformed
attorneys are designated as Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys (SAUSAs). A recent hoax-mayday
prosecution in the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii resulted in a steep fine, home
confinement, and over $11,000 in restitution for the costs associated with the Coast Guard’s air and water
search and rescue response. In a continuing effort to deter fraudulent search and rescue calls, a
Fourteenth District SAUSA secured the indictment and felony conviction in an additional false-distress
In partnership with the Department of Defense, the Fourteenth District legal office provided a judge
advocate to assist the Navy and Marine Corps defense teams on three courts-martial for charges including
assault, child pornography, and DUI. Her litigation efforts produced an acquittal, a mistrial, and a
minimal confinement sentence.
The Fourteenth District legal office also helped develop several formal agreements with area agency
partners to enhance mission accomplishment. They included memoranda of agreement with Kauai Police
Department, Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources, and the Government of American
Samoa for mutual assistance in maritime law enforcement.
Additionally, the legal assistance office continued to provide a broad spectrum of services, including
wills, health-care directives, and powers of attorney to the 3,000 eligible Coast Guard active duty,
reservists, retirees, and dependents throughout the Fourteenth District.
♦ The Maintenance and Logistics Command Atlantic Legal Division. The Norfolk-based
Maintenance & Logistics Command, Atlantic (MLCA) Legal Division is the largest field legal office in
the Coast Guard. A total of 48 personnel are assigned: 22 judge advocates; 10 civilian attorneys; 12
yeoman; 2 civilian paralegals; 1 chief warrant officer; and 1 student intern. In addition, 6 reservists (2
officers and 4 enlisted members) drill at MLCA Legal. The main office is located in downtown Norfolk,
Virginia, with a branch office collocated with the Atlantic Area Commander’s staff and the Fifth District
Commander’s staff in Portsmouth, Virginia. The division is divided into five branches, covering the
practice areas of Military Justice, Claims and Litigation, Contract Law, General Law, and Operational
Law. One civilian attorney is embedded with the Coast Guard Maritime Fusion Intelligence Center
(MIFC) Atlantic in Virginia Beach to provide intelligence law advice and legal oversight of the Atlantic
Area intelligence program. Another civilian attorney is embedded with the Coast Guard Facilities Design
and Construction Center (FDCC) Atlantic also in Norfolk. This attorney provides fiscal and contract law
support for construction projects. Finally, one MLCA judge advocate is currently deployed to Iraq in
support of the U.S. mission to support and develop the Iraqi criminal court system.
Two judge advocates are assigned annually to the Navy Legal Services Office and one judge advocate to
the Navy Regional Legal Service Office, both located at Naval Station Norfolk. These judge advocates
spend one year immersed in military justice practice, pursuant to the Memorandum of Understanding
between The Judge Advocate Generals of the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Navy.
Military Justice/Criminal Law. Military criminal law represents one of the major practice areas for the
MLCA legal division. In the past six months, MLCA successfully prosecuted numerous Courts-Martial
in cases involving child rape, child pornography, involuntary manslaughter, and a case in which a Coast
Guard member stole over $100,000 in United States funds. The MLCA legal division has an aggressive
trial advocacy training schedule, including attending National College of District Attorneys courses,
courses offered at the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s School, and Naval Justice School.
Operational Law: The Operational Law Branch is co-located with the Coast Guard Atlantic Area and
Fifth District Commanders. This branch plays a critical role in preparing Coast Guard Atlantic Area
cutters, aircrews, and deployable operational units for operational missions by providing training on
authority, use of force, evidence collection, and case package preparation. Operational judge advocates
played a key role in the development and execution of the Coast Guard’s new role in the National Capital
Region Integrated Air Defense System as well as on the Deployable Operations Group Design and
Planning Team, providing legal analysis related to new mission sets and capabilities. Additionally, a
judge advocate forward deployed with the Tactical Commander during Operation Able Warrior,
providing on-site advice and counsel during this multi-agency, DOD-led exercise.
Contract Law. The Contract Law Branch provides legal advice on all aspects of procurement and fiscal
law issues to commands and staffs throughout Coast Guard Atlantic Area. In addition to advising
contracting officials on a variety of contract formation and administration issues for a wide range of
supplies, services, and construction projects, the branch was instrumental in crafting a unique agreement
energy savings performance contract (ESPC). This agreement between the City of Baltimore and the
Coast Guard Yard will transport methane from the City’s landfill to a co-generation plant that will
generate electricity and produce enough steam to heat the shipyard during the winter. Construction of the
plant is expected to begin next summer and to be completed by the spring of 2008.
Claims and Litigation. The Claims and Litigation Branch adjudicated 1140 claims in fiscal year 2006.
These claims included defensive claims under various federal statutes where claimants are seeking
recovery for damages caused by Coast Guard personnel. The branch authorized payment of $1 million to
settle $87.5 million in damages claimed against the Coast Guard. Further, the branch collected $432,000
through 85 affirmative damage claims. New initiatives in 2007 include a claimant survey focusing on
input for continuous process improvement, measuring the error rate in incoming claims and developing
proposed cures to problems, providing feedback to Coast Guard units on ways to proactively prevent
claims through claims reports that show trends in the causation of claims, and revising claim forms to
make them more customer friendly and easier to process.
Internal Organization Law. The General Law Branch provides legal support, advice, and counsel in
several practice areas, generally related to the internal administration of Coast Guard units and missions.
These include the areas of property law, both real and personal, environmental compliance law, fiscal
law, military and civilian personnel law, federal administrative law, employee standards of conduct &
ethics, the FOIA/Privacy Act, and HIPAA. This branch provides legal support to units involved in the
regulation of liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities. Much of this work has been groundbreaking within
the Coast Guard and involves compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act. The branch
continues to facilitate the development of the NDGPS, PAWSS, and Rescue 21 communication systems
by assisting real property specialists involved in the procurement of tower and equipment space. The
branch is also involved in a number of property exchanges, wherein the Coast Guard attempts to transfer
excess real property in return for family housing.
Legal Assistance. The division’s legal assistance program has placed a major emphasis on personal legal
readiness for all Coast Guard members. This recognizes that a member’s personal financial and legal
situation is an important aspect of their overall readiness to deploy. This initiative has included improved
readiness checklists and briefings. A DVD presentation on readiness is under development. The division
also continues to develop its separation agreement program, providing this service at a time when fewer
DOD offices can do so due to the diversion of resources to the Middle East.
♦ The Maintenance and Logistics Command Pacific Legal Division. The Alameda-based Pacific JAG
Office provides legal advice to the Commander, USCG Pacific Area; Commander, Eleventh Coast Guard
District; and Commander, Maintenance and Logistics Command, Pacific. The office provides legal
support to all of Pacific Area (PACAREA), Eleventh Coast Guard District, and Maintenance & Logistics
Command Pacific units. The division is divided into seven branches, covering the practice areas of
Operational Law, Military Justice, Claims and Litigation, Environmental Law, Contract Law, Legal
Assistance, and General Law. Highlights for this mid-year report include work towards the establishment
of water training areas for small arms testing and training, enforcement of drug and environmental laws,
and continued cooperation with the Marine Corps for military justice training.
Operational Law. The Pacific JAG office operational law branch continues to advise Coast Guard
commanders regarding a wide variety of time-sensitive operational issues to include port security,
maritime pollution responses, and drug interdiction on the high seas. Counter-drug operations in the
Eastern Pacific, and the resultant criminal trials, are supported from the operational planning stages to the
appellate stage by attorneys from the Pacific JAG office. The Operational Law branch has actively
supported investigation and prosecution of five environmental pollution cases in the ports of Los Angeles
and San Francisco Bay during 2006.
Military Justice. Military justice attorneys at Pacific JAG office continue to handle a large and varied
caseload, including prosecution of dozens of courts-martial during this past year. The branch had another
great success in sending a judge advocate to U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune for a three-month
assignment as court-martial trial counsel. During this assignment, the Coast Guard attorney gained
invaluable experience in military justice, while also providing a great service to the Marine Corps JAG
offices that have personnel deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Environmental Law. The Environmental Law branch provided legal support and advice regarding water
training areas for small arms testing and training throughout the Pacific. Extensive environmental
reviews were necessary due to the necessity for consultation with Federal and State agencies, the presence
of endangered and protected species, and the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act
(NEPA). The branch also reviewed numerous other actions under NEPA, including the preparation of
Environmental Impact Statements concerning site selection for Liquid Natural Gas terminals and
facilities, and evaluation of the impacts of specified Coast Guard operations on the marine environment
within Districts Eleven and Thirteen, covering California, Oregon, and Washington.
♦ Coast Guard Academy New London, Connecticut. The Staff Judge Advocate (SJA) and his staff
furnish all legal advice to the Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, and all other Academy Divisions.
The SJA is directly responsible to the Superintendent for all military justice matters. The SJA serves as
the Academy’s Assistant Ethics Official and Command Director of Legal Assistance, and advises the
Academy community on issues such as community relations, real property management, licenses, cadet
separations, government contracts, acquisitions, environmental matters, philanthropic support, conflicts of
interest, fiscal law, personnel law, labor/management relations, and Freedom of Information Act and
Privacy Act requests.
The two Assistant Staff Judge Advocates (ASJAs) are the trial counsel for Academy courts-martial cases
and are periodically detailed to serve as Summary Courts-Martial or Article 32 Investigating Officers.
One ASJA is also appointed as a Special Assistant U. S. Attorney (SAUSA) by the U.S. Attorney for the
District of Connecticut for criminal cases arising on the Academy grounds and administers the Federal
Magistrate Program at the Coast Guard Academy. Under the Magistrate Program, the SAUSA may
prosecute civilians that commit offenses on the Academy (assault and drunken driving are examples).
Additionally, the ASJAs provide legal assistance to eligible beneficiaries, client support to staff elements,
and supervise the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.
All three judge advocates serve as law instructors to various Leadership Development Center (LDC)
courses and provide military justice and standards of conduct briefings for the corps of cadets. The LDC
courses include Prospective Commanding and Executive Officer “PCO/PXO” school, Officer Candidate
School, Chief Warrant Officer Professional Development course, Direct Commission Officer course,
Officer in Charge and Executive Petty Officer “OIC/XPO” school, Prospective Command Master Chief
course, Senior Leadership Principles and Skills course, and the Reserve Officer Candidate Indoctrination
course. The staff trained over 400 LDC students and 200 cadets in the past six months and provided over
150 hours of classroom instruction.
Law Faculty. The Coast Guard Academy faculty has two rotating military judge advocates assigned as
Professors in the Humanities Department. The faculty also has one permanently assigned judge advocate
on sabbatical; a retired judge advocate temporarily joined the faculty during his absence.
The section taught two “core” courses, Criminal Justice and Maritime Law Enforcement, and two
electives, International Law and Courtroom Rhetoric & Advocacy. Approximately 250 Coast Guard
Academy cadets took the Criminal Justice and Maritime Law Enforcement courses. In addition, ten
cadets chose to expand their legal education by taking the upper-level International Law elective, and six
in the Courtroom Rhetoric & Advocacy elective. The International Law Class visited the United Nations
(as well as the 9/11 Memorial). The visit offered varying insight to the international community through
the cadets’ discussions with UN delegates and by sitting in on Law of the Sea negotiations.
The permanent faculty member judge advocate was on sabbatical at Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall).
During his sabbatical, he assisted in teaching a course in Oceans Law, authored numerous articles in
international law and law of armed conflict, and provided commentary for an AP newspaper article
picked up by various newspapers nationally.
Instructors also had opportunities to interact with cadets in a variety of non-classroom settings, to include
advising the Cadet Law Society and Mock Trial Teams. The Cadet Law Society is a 70+ cadet
organization dedicated to fostering and developing an interest in the study of law and the Coast Guard
legal program. The Society sponsored a variety of activities, including a lunch with the Coast Guard
Commandant’s speechwriter (a judge advocate), and a field trip to view a policy debate on national
immigration policy. The Society also fielded a mock trial team that, along with students taking the
Courtroom Advocacy Course, participated in two tournaments against undergraduate teams from around
♦ Coast Guard Training Center Yorktown, Virginia. One Coast Guard attorney is assigned to the
command staff at Coast Guard Training Center Yorktown. This active duty Staff Judge Advocate (SJA),
assisted by an active duty legal assistant, provides advice on broad range of legal issues that cover the full
spectrum of the training center’s operations.
Training Center Yorktown is the Coast Guard’s largest training command, and each year the
approximately 800 permanently assigned personnel offer over 100 courses to more than 8,000 active duty,
reserve, civilian, auxiliary personnel, employees of numerous state and federal agencies, and members of
allied nations. The training center is also home to the Coast Guard’s Performance Technology Center and
the Standardization Teams for Coast Guard Boat Forces, Aids to Navigation units, and Command
Centers. The principle job of the training center’s attorney is to advise the commanding officer and
command staff on a broad range of legal issues, including military and criminal justice, fiscal and contract
law, real property, ethics, and environmental concerns. In addition, the assigned attorney provides legal
advice to the commanding officer of the Coast Guard’s National Motor Lifeboat School in Ilwaco,
Washington, a subordinate unit of Training Center Yorktown. The assigned attorney is also a Special
Assistant U. S. Attorney, in the event the proper forum for resolution of an issue is the U.S. Magistrate or
In addition to being the legal counsel for the commanding officer, the SJA serves as a legal assistance
attorney for all of the command’s students and permanent party members, as well as the outlying units of
Coast Guard Station Milford Haven, Virginia, and Coast Guard Port Security Unit 305. In the past six
months, the single Staff Judge Advocate saw over 200 personnel seeking assistance and provided a range
of services including estate planning, powers of attorney, advice on divorce and custody matters,
landlord-tenant and consumer issues, and immigration & naturalization law. The training center attorney
also oversees the command’s voluntary income tax assistance program, which this year provided
guidance to over 135 Coast Guard members, filed over 220 federal and state returns, saved members over
$20,000.00 in equivalent tax preparation and filing fees, and generated over $250,000 in refunds.
The SJA is also an instructor at Training Center Yorktown. The training center is home to 16 separate
schools, including the National Search and Rescue School, the International Maritime Officers School,
the National Aids to Navigation School, and the Coast Guard’s Operational Intelligence, Marine
Inspections and Investigations, and Port Operations Schools. The assigned attorney provides instruction
during these courses on a variety of subjects including search and seizure, use of force, legal principles
applicable to search & rescue and aids to navigation, and law of the sea. The SJA also recently provided
instruction on the broad range of legal issues facing Coast Guard commands at courses designed for
prospective commanding officers and executive officers of Coast Guard Sectors and Air Stations.
♦ Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, New Jersey. One Coast Guard attorney is assigned as the
Staff Legal Officer (SLO)/Staff Judge Advocate (SJA) for the Coast Guard’s 6th largest base and only
Recruit Training Center. Coast Guard Training Center Cape May is the home of the Coast Guard enlisted
corps; it is our Coast Guard enlisted accession point and recruit training center. The finest young men
and women in service to the United States of America pass through our gates each year. Our goal is to
graduate apprentices with the pride, commitment, and basic skills to serve the American public in the U.S.
Coast Guard. At Training Center Cape May, we instill, in all our people, the Coast Guard's Core Values
of Honor, Respect and Devotion to Duty.
The SLO advises the Commanding Officer in all legal matters involving the Training Center. Major areas
requiring advice include community relations, real property management, licenses, Recruit separations,
government contracts, acquisitions, environmental matters, philanthropic support, claims and litigation,
conflicts of interest, fiscal law, personnel law and labor/management relations, and Freedom of
Information Act and Privacy Act. In addition, the Staff Legal Officer assists the Training Center’s 14
The SLO is the Staff Judge Advocate and, as such, is directly responsible to the Commanding Officer for
all military justice matters.
As the Command Director of Legal Assistance for the Training Center, the SLO provides legal assistance
to Recruits, active duty, dependents, local retirees, and several local/tenant commands throughout Eastern
Pennsylvania and all of New Jersey.
On a weekly basis, the Staff Legal Office provides instruction to Recruits on the Uniform Code of
Military Justice. The Legal Office trains over 5,000 Recruits, Reserves, and prior service personnel.
The SLO provides local liaison with Coast Guard Investigative Service and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
♦ The Maritime Law Enforcement Academy. The MLE Academy has partnered with the Charleston
School of Law to sponsor internship and externship programs. One law student is conducting an
externship for credit hours and three students are completing internships.
The students work 10-20 hours per week and shadow the judge advocates and other instructors on staff.
The students are learning about Coast Guard authority and jurisdiction, practical application of the 4th
and 5th Amendment, how the Coast Guard conducts boardings, and how to properly create litigation
Additionally, law students serve as participants in mock trials and play the roles of Judge, Bailiff,
Assistant U.S. Attorney, and defense attorney. A qualified Coast Guard instructor is always present when
the law students are teaching.