President Obama Nominates Pitt Law Alum Marine Col. John G. Baker (’97) To Be Brigadier General And Chief Defense Counsel For Military Commissions

On June 4, President Obama nominated Pitt Law alum Marine Col. John G. Baker to be chief defense counsel at the Guantánamo Bay war court as well as to a promotion to brigadier general. The Pentagon notified Congress of the proposed appointment, and if confirmed, Baker will be one of the highest-ranked Pitt Law alumni in the U.S. military.

Baker currently serves as the Marine Corps deputy director, Judge Advocate Division, for military justice and community development. In his role, he is also the Marine Corps representative to the Department of Defense’s Joint Service Committee on Military Justice. Previously, he was chief defense counsel of the Marine Corps as well as regional defense counsel for the Eastern Region.

In 2013, Baker was a panelist on one of the school’s Lawyers as Leaders Pitt Law Academy series where, along with U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Michael Fisher, he spoke about what leadership means for lawyers and offered advice to Pitt Law students about attaining positions of influence and achieving success.

In 1994, Baker enrolled at Pitt Law as a supply officer, having been selected to attend law school under the Marine Corps Law Education Program.

According to his official biography, Baker has carried a caseload of complex cases, which have included capital murder, serious assaults, and allegations of misconduct by senior officers. He also holds an LL.M from the Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School and an MBA from Averett University.

According to the Miami-Herald, this move comes about because new Congressional legislation requires a one-star officer to supervise the military and civilian defense lawyers assigned to cases of captives awaiting war crimes trial at Guantánamo.