On August 3, 2017, Joseph L. Toth, Amanda L. Meredith, and Michael P. Allen were confirmed by the full U.S. Senate as judges for the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans’ Claims (CAVC). They join five other active CAVC judges on the Court.
The CAVC is the nation’s youngest federal court, only established in 1988. The Court is not a part of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and provides independent judicial review of decisions made by the VA’s Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA). Precedential CAVC opinions can lead to important changes to veterans’ law.
Here’s a taste of what the three latest appointees had to say at their Senate VA Committee confirmation hearing on July 19 and an overview of what they have to offer in terms of experience.
Michael P. Allen
“I can promise you that I will strive every day that I am a judge to deliver justice under the law to everyone who comes before me… In March 1865, only a few hundred yards from where this hearing is being held, President Lincoln gave his famous Second Inaugural Address. Only a few weeks before he would be assassinated, President Lincoln called on the country to come together and bind its wounds. He then called on the Nation to “care for him who has borne the battle and his widow and his orphan.” By becoming a judge on this court, I will be able to carry out President Lincoln’s exhortation on a daily basis. I can’t think of a better way to devote my professional energies.”
- Home state: Florida
- serves as a Professor of Law and Director of the Veterans Law Institute at Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, Florida, where he teaches courses in civil and constitutional law, as well as veterans’ benefits law (for 16 years)
- recognized expert on the law of veterans’ benefits and has testified before Congress and published widely in the field
- spent nine years as a civil trial attorney at the law firm Ropes & Gray in Boston, Massachusetts
- A. in American history and political science, summa cum laude, from the University of Rochester, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and his J.D. from the Columbia University School of Law, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar
Amanda L. Meredith
“During my career, I have seen the impact on veterans and their families when they face delays receiving decisions on their claims for veterans’ benefits. So, it would be important to me personally to quickly begin helping the court provide justice to the veterans who are already waiting for decisions and keep up with the challenging incoming caseload. I believe my experience, skills, and dedication to the area of veterans’ law would allow me to do just that.”
- Home state: Virginia
- currently serves as the deputy staff director and general counsel of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
- previously served as general counsel to the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and as benefits counsel to Ranking Member Richard Burr of North Carolina and Ranking Member Larry Craig of Idaho
- served as director of the Task Force for Backlog Reduction for the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims and as a law clerk and executive attorney to Chief Judge Kenneth Kramer, United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims
- S. from the State University of New York at Buffalo, summa cum laude, and her J.D. from the State University of New York at Buffalo, magna cum laude, where she was a member of theBuffalo Law Review.
Joseph L. Toth
“Like most veterans, my experience serving our country was among the most formative of my life. I learned the rules of evidence in military courtrooms; tried cases on aircraft carries and in airplane hangars; drafted wills on submarines; and pretended not to be scared as I donned body armor and carried an M4 through mule paths in Afghanistan. None of it was easy but every second was worth it.
Most of all, I am grateful to the men and women whom I served with and who embodied hard work and integrity. Whatever service I gave to our country pales in comparison to countless veterans – and their families – who made infinitely greater sacrifices.”
- Home state: Wisconsin
- Veteran of the Judge Advocate General Corps of the United States Navy
- served as a field officer in 2011 in the Rule of Law Field Force Afghanistan (ROLFF-A), where he was stationed with the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division in the Zhari District of Afghanistan
- awarded the Joint Service Commendation Medal for his service
- served as Senior Defense Counsel in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, where he defended Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guard personnel at courts-martial
- clerked for Judge Daniel A. Manion on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and Judge Robert J. Conrad of the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina
- served as an associate Federal public defender in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- A. from the University of Chicago and his J.D. from the Ave Maria School of Law.