Soundings News Articles

District counsel to serve as federal judge

Published May 16, 2018
Joe Falvey

Joe Falvey

By Lynn Rose, public affairs chief, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District

Imagine how honored a parent would be of a child that has become an attorney and then through their hard work receives the opportunity to be a judge.

Well, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District, is that proud of Joseph Falvey, district counsel, Office of Counsel, Detroit District, who assumed a position as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, May 14.  The Court, located in Washington, D.C., has exclusive jurisdiction over decisions of the Board of Veterans' Appeals and the court reviews board decisions appealed by claimants who believe the board erred in its decision.  

Falvey, nominated by the President of the United States, is humbled and honored to continue to serve the nation and it’s veterans in this important role.

“To me, serving as a judge is the capstone of my career.  I am humbled and feel blessed to have this opportunity,” said Falvey.

In addition to his service at the Corps of Engineers, Falvey, a Michigan native, has served as a Marine Corps officer and judge advocate with litigation and prior judicial experience. He also has a great love for the men and women who serve and who have served our nation. 

“Over 100 years ago, my grandfather served as a U.S. Army machine gunner with the American Expeditionary Force in France during World War I,” said Falvey. “My father enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps at the end of World War II and served through the Korean and Vietnam wars for 32 years. My older brothers each served for 30 years and are veterans of the Cold War era.”

“I myself served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 30 years, including service in Afghanistan. Two of my sons are currently U.S. Marine Corps infantry officers (one completed two combat tours in Afghanistan and the other is preparing for his second overseas deployment) and one of my daughters is an U.S. Air Force officer. Many other close relatives also served,” said Falvey, adding, “Military service not only runs in my family, it runs deep within me.”

After a time-consuming, yet necessarily, thorough process, Falvey has received his “commission” from the President, and has been sworn in as a Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

“The process for nomination and confirmation is quite lengthy. I was initially invited to interview with a panel of attorneys from the Office of White House Counsel and the U.S. Department of Justice,” said Falvey. “Eventually, I was notified that the President intended to nominate me for the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.” 

“Before I was nominated, I underwent a thorough FBI background investigation and once nominated, I completed a financial disclosure report for the Administrative Office of the United States Courts and two lengthy questionnaires for the Senate Committee on Veteran’s Affairs,” explained Falvey. “Subsequently, I met with members of the Committee and a confirmation hearing was held on April 11, 2018.” 

“On April 18, 2018, the Committee favorably endorsed my nomination to the full Senate and, on April 26, 2018, the Senate confirmed me,” said Falvey, describing the process. 

Before moving on to serve in this once in a lifetime opportunity, Falvey, spending many years as an attorney and giving time-honored service to the nation, has advice for up-and-coming attorneys about their careers: “Find your passion; seek out opportunities to challenge yourself and broaden your experience; and excel at whatever you are doing,” said Falvey. “It may not always work out how you might have planned but, in the end, it will be a life well-lived.

Falvey leaves the Detroit District and its civil works mission, which enables commercial navigation on the Great Lakes and seeks to also protect the Great Lakes natural resources, to take on the tremendous task of deciding the outcome of veterans’ cases in the federal court.

“I will leave the Detroit District with mixed emotions,” he said. “Although I am eager to begin my service on the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, I will miss my Counsel colleagues at the District, Division, and Headquarters. I will also miss the entire Detroit team—it has been a great pleasure to work with all of you.

The Detroit District team wishes Falvey all the best in his new endeavors and the next phase of his life. Falvey’s thoughtful, honest, courageous and effective leadership will be missed by the people at the Corps.

President Reagan signed into law the Veterans' Judicial Review Act in 1988, which established the United States Court of Veterans Appeals. In 1999, the Court's name was changed to the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. As a court of record, the court is part of the United States judiciary and not part of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Court has exclusive jurisdiction over decisions of the Board of Veterans' Appeals.

The Court has seven permanent, active Judges, and two additional Judges as part of a temporary expansion provision, each appointed for 15-year terms.