The U.S. Senate confirmed Professor Scott Silliman as a judge on the U.S. Court of Military Commission Review on June 21. President Barack Obama nominated Silliman to the appellate court that reviews military commission cases in November 2011 and the Senate Armed Services Committee approved his nomination by voice vote on June 20.
In a press release announcing the nomination, the president said Silliman’s extensive experience in both military and civilian law makes him “uniquely qualified to both protect our national security interests and uphold our highest judicial standards.”
Silliman is a professor of the practice of law and director emeritus of the Duke Center on Law, Ethics and National Security (LENS); he served as director from the center’s inception in 1993 until July 2011. His teaching and research interests focus on national security law, military law, and the law of armed conflict.
Silliman joined the Duke Law faculty after a 25-year career as an Air Force judge advocate during which he held a variety of leadership positions, including staff judge advocate and senior attorney for Tactical Air Command and later Air Combat Command. During the Persian Gulf War, he supervised the deployment of all Air Force attorneys and paralegals incident to Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm. He retired from the Air Force with the rank of colonel.
“Scott Silliman’s Senate confirmation is a recognition not just of his enormous intellectual abilities, but also of his natural judicial temperament,” said Professor Charles Dunlap Jr., the executive director of LENS and former deputy judge advocate general of the U.S. Air Force. “Military commissions’ cases present a range of novel legal issues, and Scott is the perfect person to address them thoughtfully and impartially. This is a real ‘win’ for the nation.”
The U.S. Court of Military Commission Review is composed of one or more panels, including at least three appellate military judges as well as civilian judges, who sit in panels or as a whole, to review each military commission case submitted to the Court of Military Commission Review. The Court of Military Commission Review also reviews the findings and sentence of each military commission case for legal and factual sufficiency, unless the accused waives the right to appeal.
“I deeply appreciate the confidence placed in me by the president and the Senate with regard to this appointment to the court,” said Silliman. “It is a tremendous privilege for me to serve my country again, and I look forward to joining the other judges on the court in reviewing the military commission cases coming from Guantánamo Bay.”
William B. Pollard III, a partner in the New York firm Kornstein Veisz Wexler & Pollard and a former federal prosecutor, was confirmed as a civilian judge on the Court of Military Commission Review along with Silliman. Silliman will likely be sworn in to his new position later this summer. He will teach Responding to Terrorism: Different Perspectives of Applicable Law at the Duke-Geneva Institute in Transnational Law in July.