The CAVC (Court of Appeals for Veteran’s Claims), the first Court of Law that a Veteran enters when involved in the claims process, held it’s 11th Judicial Conference on March 4-5, 2010, in Washington D.C. The CAVC was established by Congress in 1988 and provides an avenue of appeal for Veterans whose claims are denied by the BVA (Board of Veteran’s Appeals). Prior to the establishment of this court, if a Veteran’s claim was denied by the Board, that was the end of the line. The CAVC provides an opportunity for a Veteran to obtain appellate review of a prior claims denial.
The two-day conference covered many topic areas inclusive of discussion concerning Traumatic Brain Injury as it relates to the rating system, the Dynamics of Medical Nexus Opinions, Navigating the National Personnel Records Center/Joint Services Research Center and case trends at the CAVC and their relation to precedent set forth at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
A highlight of the conference was an address by retired Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O’Connor. Justice O’Connor discussed the responsibilities of the judiciary and the importance that it conduct itself in such a way as to not be mistrusted by the public. The courtroom provides “one safe place” for a litigant to go in search of justice and the litigant should be able to rely on the judiciary to render decisions based upon the applicable law whether they are unpopular or not.
In addition, Justice O’Connor commented that it is important that civics lessons be brought back to the classroom. She believes that in order for children to become future leaders and have a grasp on governmental structure, they must learn and understand the concepts taught in civics classes. To this end, Justice O’Connor has set up a website aimed at Middle School Students, which provides games for them to engage in while learning the legal processes. The website is www.ourcourts.org.
Kara L. Campbell, Esq., Finkelstein & Partners