Willamette University, Students at the Mill Stream

College of Law News

Brigadier General Thomas L. Hemingway BA '62, JD '65 receives outstanding alumni award

Brigadier General Thomas L. Hemingway BA ’62, JD ’65, a legal advisor in the Office of Military Commissions, a professor of law, a judge and a veteran of more than 30 years of the JAG Corps, has received the law school’s 2011 Outstanding Alumni Award. The award was presented at the Heritage Reunion luncheon on Thursday, just before Hemingway gave a talk on his reflections from his service with the Office of Military Commissions.

“General Hemingway has been a very loyal, strong and generous supporter of Willamette,” said Dean Symeon C. Symeonides in his introduction. “We are very proud of your service and accomplishments.”

Hemingway, a graduate of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps, has served as a judge advocate, an associate professor of law at the U.S. Air Force Academy and a senior judge on the Air Force Court of Military Review.  He retired from active duty but was recalled twice to serve as legal advisory in the Department of Defense’s Office of Military Commissions and as a senior advisor to the Deputy Secretary of Commerce. In 2009 he was elected the corporate secretary of the Army and Navy Club in Washington, D.C. He lives in Virginia.

In a wide-ranging talk, Hemingway said he disagrees with the term “enemy combatant,” preferring instead the term “unprivileged belligerent” because it more accurately describes combatants who don’t fall under the protocols of the Geneva Conventions. He also criticized the Bush Administration for its “failure of diplomacy” after the 9-11 attacks.

“They didn’t get out front and explain what they were doing and why they were doing it,” Hemingway said. “Because of the failure of public diplomacy, a lot of what was going on wasn’t reported.”

For instance, Hemingway said, the International Committee of the Red Cross has always had access to Guantanamo Bay detainees. “In the four years I served as a legal advisor [in the Office of Military Commissions], 90,000 pieces of mail went in and out of the camp to detainees,” he said. “That is not what I call incommunicado.”

Public Interest Law Project raises $25,000; will award eight fellowships

The 19th annual Bid for Justice auction sponsored by the Willamette University Public Interest Law Project (WUPILP) has raised $25,000. The money will be used for eight summer fellowships, the most ever, according to WUPILP president Aaron Jeffers.

The auction, held earlier this month at the Mission Mill in Salem, featured a catered dinner, several auctions, performances by faculty members…and a wedding proposal.

In one of the evening’s lighter moments, second-year law student Jack Dekovich arranged with Jeffers to propose to girlfriend Emily Skaer, a graphic animator in Portland. Jeffers called Dekovich to the front of the room; Dekovich announced that he and Skaer had been dating for seven years, and then he turned to her and asked, “I know it’s short notice, but…will you marry me?”

Fortunately, Skaer said yes. They plan to marry next summer or the year after.

“I don’t know how we’re going to top that next year,” Jeffers said. “You just never know what’s going to happen at a WUPILP auction.”

The event, one of the biggest all year, raises money for fellowships that are given to law students working at nonprofits or governments. The work must be law-related and can be anywhere in the U.S. or overseas.

Among the auction items were vacation packages, a trip to a Mariners v. Yankees game with Professor Paul Diller, and dinner with Dean Symeon C. Symeonides. Richard F. Breen, director of the J.W. Long Law Library, received the WUPILP public interest service award.