“We’re the wild west of law,” said Judge Mary J. Schoelen as she emphasized the fact that the area of veterans law is still a relatively new one. Her words came as part of a question and answer session that followed oral arguments before the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims in the case of Posey v. Shinseki.
The three-judge panel, consisting of Judges Lawrence B. Hagel and Alan G. Lance Sr. in addition to Judge Schoelen, heard oral arguments in the Ruby R. Vale Moot Courtroom of Widener Law’s Delaware campus on Tuesday, March 16th. The case before the court involved veteran Robert V. Posey of Denver, Colorado who served on active duty between 1945 and 1949, and whether or not he forfeited his right to an appeal by not properly filing it within the specified 120 days from the date of notification. Mr. Posey, the appellant, contended that the regional Veterans Affairs office failed to mail its decision to the correct address and then failed to properly mark the date when it sent subsequent notification. Attorney Nhu P. Nguyen represented the Department of Veterans Affairs in the hearing, while Sara E. Collier of Oklahoma City spoke on behalf of the appellant.
Before the arguments, Norman Y. Herring, Clerk of the Court for the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, introduced a short video that spoke about the history of the court and its purpose. The Veterans Judicial Review Act of 1988 created The United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Appeals on November 18, 1988. The name of the court subsequently changed to United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims on March 1st, 1999.
Following the oral arguments, Judges Hagel, Lance, and Schoelen each described their backgrounds and then took questions from the audience. Asked about the legislative process that created the court, Judge Hagel answered that it ended up being a compromise between the Senate and House plans which resulted in a “cohesive, centralized, and specialized court.” Other questions focused on how to get involved with representing veterans, whether or not the ability to appeal is a right, and the decision-making procedures of the court.
Widener Law Dean Linda L. Ammons
offered a few comments at the conclusion of the event, thanking the court for coming to Widener Law. She also thanked Taishoff Professor of Law Thomas J. Reed
for his efforts with the Veterans Law Clinic
. Professor Reed himself then thanked Military Law Society
President Damiano del Pino and Special Events Coordinator Connie Sweeney for their efforts in organizing and preparing the event.