Friday, June 12, 2009

Judge Robinson O. Everett passes away

I'm very sad to report that Judge Robinson O. Everett passed away today. He was 81. His biography is available here. Judge Everett was a great man, a great jurist, and a great educator. He made a huge contribution to military justice throughout his long legal career. His service as Chief Judge of the Court of Military Appeals elevated the court's stature immeasurably. He also greatly influenced the development of the UCMJ when he served as a counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights under the direction of Senator Sam Ervin. Judge Everett's work with the committee led to the passage of the Military Justice Act of 1968, which created the position of military judge and elevated the status of the Boards of Review to true courts. Probably no one in history has done more to influence the military's judiciary than Judge Everett.

I had the opportunity to meet him when I was a law student and was amazed by how gracious he was and how willing he was to spend time and share insights with a lowly Marine Corps lieutenant/law student. Over the years, I came to see that such graciousness was the hallmark of his interaction with everyone he encountered. His passing creates an unfillable void in the military justice community and in the hearts of all those who knew him.


Dew_Process said...

That is indeed sad and a loss for all of us in the military justice community. I had the opportunity / pleasure of being his "escort officer" many years back when he was touring bases in Germany. As I was driving him from A to B, he asked me how they [the then CMA Judges] could do a better job for those of us in the trenches. Shortly after that, he asked me which of the local beers I would recommend.

Judge Everett's death, coupled with the recent passing of CAPT Kenneth Barry, are monumental losses to our niche in the legal profession.

Anonymous said...

Judge Everett was my criminal procedure and evidence professor at Duke when I was there in the mid-80s. He was a tremendous teacher, mentor, and influence on everyone who knew him there. He also had longevity, the Duke staffer I talked to this morning said that they'd calculated that he shared the campus with 97% of the living Duke Law graduate community. And I agree with Dwight's comment about his graciousness-I never met a judge Robbie Everett's equal in wit, civility, or fairness.

M. T. Hall said...

To help the newer generation of appellate counsel gain a better understanding of why Judge Everett is revered by those of us who first practiced out of hard-bound MCM's, I invite your attention to former-Commissioner Everett's book, "Military Justice in the Armed Forces of the United States" - published in 1956. His involvement in military justice spanned a staggering number of years, which is one reason why it is impossible to overstate his contributions. He welcomed the chance to educate the general public about the military justice system, even providing guest commentary when Court TV aired the oral argument in a military capital appeal. His scholarship, civility, and collegiality were only a few of the reasons why it was always an honor to argue before Judge Everett.

LeEllen said...

Judge Everett was a true gentleman. As a counsel arguing cases in front of him, I was always amazed at how he could...oh so gently....ask just that one question that would identify and summarize the issue perfectly; sometimes much to my dismay. He was respected because he respected others and treated everyone fairly. He was a man to emulate. Rest in Peace, Judge Everett, and may God Bless your family.

Eugene R. Fidell said...

What I recall is the friendship and courtesy "Robbie" showed me when I was really just a youngster. Never a harsh word about anyone (how rare is that?), even when disagreement reared its head. He also had a memorable chuckle. His oeuvre as a judge is unlikely to be matched anytime soon. When the Biographical Dictionary of Military Law is written, his will be a long and important chapter.

Sarah Jessica Farber said...

Duke has posted a lovely news item with his biography at

I've known Judge Everett just in the last 3 years -- I studied for the bar with one of his sons and daughters-in-law -- and am a better lawyer for it. He mentored my Veteran's Law Clinic professor and lectured our class and at our CLE. I feel very lucky to have known him professionally and personally. I mourn his loss for his kids, his grandkids, the grandkids to come, and his lovely wife, for the law school he loved so much, and for the bar of my state, which is truly the lesser for his absence today.

Prof. Bob Turner said...

I knew Robbie Everett for more than 25 years, and during that time he had few equals in the field of military law. We worked together often in the ABA Standing Committee on Law & National Security. A true gentleman with a great sense of humor and love of life, I never heard an unpleasant word from him. He was a great teacher, in and outside the classroom, and a champion of the highest human values.

The world is a lesser place for his absence.

May he rest in peace.


Paul said...

I would like to direct your attention to the Veterans Herald at
Judge Everett was one of our co-founders. He was absolutely the most gracious, compassionate and humble human being I ever came across.
We truly feel his loss.

Paul said...

I would like to direct your attention to the Veterans Herald at
Judge Everett was one of our co-founders. He was absolutely the most gracious, compassionate and humble human being I ever came across.
We truly feel his loss.

Charlie Gittins said...

I was saddened to learn of Judge Everett's passing. I met him on several occasions at the CAAF Conference and during (and after) oral arguments at CAAF (he substituted in US v. Gleason). He was a gentleman and lawyer to emulate. He is a giant of Military Law and he will be missed.