Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Heels of Justice

Apr 15, 2019

Welcome to Heels of Justice; these are the stories of women lawyers who are trailblazers in their field and paved the way for the rest of us.


Today, the Heels of Justice interview, Commander Temperance C. Huffstetler (“Claire”), is an attorney in the United States Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps. She currently serves as the Victims’ Legal Counsel for Naval District Washington.

LCDR Huffstetler was commissioned as a naval officer in May 2002 and served as a Surface Warrior Officer in a variety of operational roles until 2007, when she entered law school through the Navy’s Law Education Program. After graduating from law school in 2010, she completed Naval Justice School in Newport, RI. In her first tour as a Judge Advocate, LCDR Huffstetler served at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, where she practiced as a criminal defense litigator, legal assistance attorney, and military disability attorney. She was then assigned as Command Judge Advocate for Naval Station Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. From 2014 to 2016, LCDR Huffstetler served as the Command Judge Advocate aboard three nuclear aircraft carriers, providing legal advice regarding military justice, operational law, fiscal law, international law, the law of the sea, and administrative law.


Key Takeaways

[:35] Sarita welcomes Claire Huffstetler, to the Heels of Justice podcast.

[1:38] Claire talks about who her services are meant for as well as what exactly being a JAG entails, day to day.

[4:06] Where is military law situated in the spectrum of victim’s right as opposed to say, civilian law? And why would there be a difference?

[7:46] How is the Victims’ Legal Counsel practice evolving in the courts? “Unfortunately, we’re still behind the bar!”

[8:57] Sarita asks if there has been any evolution or changes in Claire’s work in the context of the ‘Me Too’ movement.

[12:37] Claire gives some tangible practice pointers on how to best defend victims, for attorneys looking to do more in victims advocacy.

[17:14] How does Claire deal with the very real emotional aspects of this line of work?

[19:11] Vicarious trauma is real.

[21:50] Sarita asks what Claire wanted to be as a child, and how her path eventually took her to the Military and military law.

[24:55] Sarita opens a parenthesis and asks Claire to paint a picture of what life is like on a naval carrier! And what about being stationed in Guam?

[27:55] The most interesting place to practice? Imagine a tie between an aircraft carrier and Guantanamo Bay … Let’s challenge the image we have of Guantanamo, you will be surprised!

[33:04] Sarita asks what Claire’s biggest challenges as a woman and as a professional in the Navy?

[39:36] Sarita asks what Claire’s mantra is and thanks her for sharing so much of her experience on the Heels of Justice podcast and she signs off until next time.

That’s it for this episode of Heels of Justice; if you like the stories we’re telling, please visit our website. You can join our mailing list, learn more about our guests, and see what we have planned for the future.

You can also follow us on Twitter, on Instagram, and on Facebook.

Disclaimer: The opinions you have heard are ours or our guest’s alone. They’re not the opinions of our employers, or our clients, or our bosses, and not our husbands, kids or pets, or anyone else’s.


Mentioned in this episode (chronological order)

U.S. Navy

Civilian VS. Military criminal court

Navy Victims’ Legal Counsel Program

National Crime Victim Law Institute (NCVLI)

Network for Victim Recovery of DC (NVRDC)

Vicarious trauma

Army ROTC Scholarship

Naval Submariner

Naval Aviator

Surface warfare

Gunnery officer

Engineering officer

Port Operations Officer Guam

Navy scholarship for law school

G.I. Bill

Visit, board, search, and seizure


More about the Heels of Justice hosts Sarita Venkat, and Katherine Minarik

Heels of Justice on the Web

Heels of Justice on Twitter

Heels of Justice on Instagram

Heels of Justice on Facebook


Sarita Venkat on LinkedIn

Katherine Minarik on LinkedIn

Katherine Minarik on Twitter

Katherine Minarik at cleverbridge


Personal stories (edited)

“In Guantanamo Bay, I was the GC for the commander of the base, which is a small town with about five thousand residents; the detainment facility is a separate entity. So we have community housing, churches, community centers, gyms, swimming pools, and restaurants! The base supports the ships that come for all around South America and the Caribbean, it’s an important foothold and anti-drug operation and a lot of migrants pass through. There is also a body of foreign national laborers to support the base, so I never had a day that I didn’t hear a new issue … Most of them were: how does this comport with international law? In most bases, there are memorandums of agreement with the host nation, and that controls the application of the law: what laws we subscribe to on the base, and how our service members are treated if they go out in town and do something wrong. But in Guantanamo Bay, there’s no host nation relationship, so it was a create-your-own-adventure-type situation!”

“I was the GC on an aircraft carrier. Imagine that you are in a grey steel windowless box — kind of like a freight elevator car — and a few floors above your office there is an airport landing strip and fighter jets are taking off and landing. The force and the sound is reverberating through the walls, the floors, the ceiling, your body, rattling your coffee mug across your desk. Then imagine that you have a nuclear reactor a few floors under your office. In between the airport, your office and the nuclear reactor you have a hotel that houses 3 to 6 thousand people with a 24h restaurant, hospital, church, fitness center and all the office spaces to support that, and you’re floating…”

More about our guest

Claire Huffstetler on LinkedIn