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Mystery Trailblazer

April 14, 2015

The March 27, 2015, Women and Law Conference Panel #2 featured a so-called mystery Trailblazer. Her identity was not disclosed until her long string of firsts was shared with the audience, before she rose to the occasion during the audience’s hearty applause.  

Panel #2 of the WLC featured presentations by Dr. Wendy Patrick, San Diego County Deputy District Attorney (on the early 20th century women’s’ rights advocate Clara S. Foltz); Professor Jerry Uelmen, Santa Clara University School of Law (on California Supreme Court Justice Rose Bird); and the Hon. Irma Gonzalez, US District Judge (Ret.) and neutral with JAMS (on U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O´Connor). Professor William Slomanson was the fourth “Trailblazer” presenter and moderator for this panel.

Slomanson began by noting that the mystery Trailblazer was not the kind of person to brag. He sealed the deal, however, when convincing her that the conference must take advantage of this perfect opportunity to share her accomplishments with the TJSL community. He mentioned that “She outranks me by an armful of stripes. So I had to twist her arm with great poise!”

The following list of “firsts” then dazzled the audience:

  • First woman to win the “Military Skills” award, in the first integrated (male & female) Basic Marine Corps Training Class
  • One of only four women in the class of 180 young captains, and the only lawyer to attend the Amphibious Warfare School in Quantico, VA
  • First female court-martial judge in the entire Marine Corps
  • As a Naval Justice School instructor, was the first female department head, leading both the Criminal Law & Evidence Departments
  • When transferred to Camp Pendleton, the first female Regional Defense Counsel—evaluating and observing all Marine defense counsel west of the Rocky Mountains
  • When selected for the rank of Colonel, the first female Staff Judge Advocate for the @ 1st Marine Aircraft Wing (Okinawa)
  • The first female Staff Judge Advocate, for the 1st Services Support Group, deployed in the 1st Persian Gulf War
  • As Chief Defense Counsel of the Marine Corps, the first woman to fill that position—thus evaluating and observing all Marine Defense Counsel in the Marine Corps worldwide

This Trailblazer has been a civilian attorney for the last 20 years, representing military members accused of crimes. She has tried over 400 jury trials and thousands of bench trials, involving Marines charged with war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. She is now the only woman, in a group of former defense judge advocates, to represent these men.

She is now the only former service member, who is member faculty, at the prestigious National Criminal Defense College at Mercer Law School.

The mystery Trailblazer was finally asked to stand, to thundering applause. It was our very own long-term Adjunct Professor Jane Siegel, Colonel, United States Marine Corps (ret.)

Professor Slomanson closed that portion of the proceedings by stating: “Each of today’s trailblazing panelists addressed the nature of his or her Trailblazer’s qualities, and their meaning for lawyers today. In this case, it was easy for Colonel Siegel. I looked no further than the Marine Corps core values that Professor Siegel exemplifies—Honor, Courage, Commitment Oorah!