In August 2015, the Veterans Court appointed a new Chief Judge.
Outgoing Chief Judge Kasold – the Chief since August 7, 2010 – stepped aside and made way for Judge Lawrence B. Hagel.
This type of thing is often more important to the lawyers of the Veterans Advocacy Community than it is to Veterans.
I don’t believe this should be the case: over time, it is part of my larger agenda to introduce you to the Veterans Court:
I want to show you how its decisions affect – good or bad – the administrative claims process, and how important this Court is to the future of Veterans Benefits law.
For starters, the role of the Veterans Court is not really clear to most Veterans.
After all, when most Veterans think of a Court, they think of discovery, jury trials, cross-examination….
That’s not the Veterans Court.
It’s a different kind of Court. There is no jury. No Discovery.
No, the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims was a welcome “watch-dog” … an Article I Court (i.e., a court created by Congress under its Article I powers, not by the Article III of the U.S. Constitution, which is the font of judicial authority in our system.
It’s primary function is to review the final decision of the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA).
And thank God for that!
With an error rate approaching the fielding percentage of the 2013 Baltimore Orioles, its good to have someone keeping an eye on the BVA.
The so-called Veterans Court is authorized 7 permanent active Judges – in addition, some temporary expansion provisions allow for 2 additional Judges.
All of the Court’s Judges are typically appointed for 15-year terms.
The Court only has one “Chief Judge” at a time.
The landscape of American politics and culture can change dramatically depending on which Supreme Court Chief Justice is leading the Court through the controversial issues of the day.
And because the CAVC is a “niche” court – it only affects about 21 million Veterans (less than 10% of our population) it’s not going to dramatically shape American values and culture.
But it how the Court comes down, on the issues of the day facing Veterans Benefits Claims, will have a major impact on anyone disabled by or injured in military service.
So let’s get to know what kind of Chief Judge we might be looking at here by taking a look at 3 Court Decisions that I think best represent the man who is our new Chief…..