Over the past two decades, Charlton Meginley’s assignments in the United States Air Force JAG Corps have moved him across the country and around the world on 10 different occasions, with stops in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, California, Illinois, Texas, Washington, Maryland, Germany, and Iraq.
In January, the Alexandria native and 2002 LSU Law graduate retired as a Colonel and Appellate Military Judge on the U.S. Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals so his family could finally return to Louisiana and begin putting down roots here.
“We came home for a reason,” said Meginley, who is now residing in Madisonville and serving as general counsel for the Louisiana Secretary of State. “I’ve really enjoyed all of the places we’ve been able to live in throughout my career, but they just don’t have our culture or way of life—and I want to do whatever I can to help Louisiana.”
Since returning home, Meginley has visited LSU Law to be a panelist at the “Veterans in the Legal Field” event on March 2, and he played a key role in helping bring the U.S. Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals to the Paul M. Hebert Law Center later this month. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 22, the court will hold oral arguments in the David Robinson Courtroom, providing LSU Law students with a unique opportunity to observe the proceedings and file amicus curiae briefs under the direction of supervising attorneys.
“Essentially, the court will be picked up from Washington, DC and moved to Baton Rouge for the day,” Meginley said. “Law students will have the opportunity to see the prestige and ceremony that comes with the legal process firsthand.”
The Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps Detachment 310 at LSU and the university’s rich military history make LSU Law a perfect fit for the U.S. Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals visit. Meginley began working to bring the court to his alma mater prior to his retirement and said he’s eager to return to the Law Center later this month to observe the oral arguments as a spectator, wearing his Air Force retirement button.
“My two passions came together to make this happen,” Meginley said. “My goal was simply to do whatever I could to highlight LSU Law.”
Meginley joined Jim Letten, Harry J. “Skip” Philips (’83), Jay O’Brien (’99), Mike Walsh (’83), David Rozas (’04), and Lucas Schenk (’20) at the “Veterans in the Legal Field” panel discussion on March 2, and said he was honored to share information about the career opportunities available to law students in the U.S. Air Force JAG Corps.
“It gave me so much,” he said, “an awesome career, the chance to serve my country as a lawyer, the opportunity to travel and for my kids to see things most kids would never be able to appreciate. When I’m on my deathbed, I’ll think of the JAG Corps and all that it has provided to me, even as I continue to grow. I just hope some students walked away interested in JAG.”
Meginley was interested in the Air Force JAG Corps from an early age. After earning his undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Louisiana at Monroe in 1999 and his law degree at LSU Law three years later, he reported for active duty in the Air Force JAG Corps just six weeks after passing the bar exam in the summer of 2002.
He worked on every side of criminal justice over the course of his JAG career, serving as a base prosecutor as well as defense counsel and retiring as a judge. He earned many awards and decorations during his career, including the Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Commendation Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, and Legion of Merit, among others. His articles have appeared in The Air Force JAG Corps Reporter, Journal of Global Justice and Public Policy, Arizona Attorney, and Louisiana Bar Journal.
As an LSU Law student, Meginley said he formed powerful connections with peers and professors that have benefitted him throughout his career, adding that he especially enjoyed the time he spent with Professor Emeritus Howard L’Enfant.
“Professor L’Enfant was one of my legal heroes,” he said. “He was the most genteel, professional instructor, and he was exactly what you would expect of someone interested in your success as a student and a lawyer.”
In his free time, Meginley enjoys spending time outdoors and hiking, and he has previously hiked through Patagonia, the Inca Trail, Machu Picchu and Mount Kilimanjaro. When he’s not at the office or on the trails, the husband and father of four daughters said you can usually find him spending time with his family and enjoying the rich south Louisiana culture, especially now that his oldest daughter, Caroline, is a freshman at LSU.
Now that he’s back in Louisiana, Meginley said he anticipates making many more return visits to LSU Law School and continue helping his alma mater and Paul M. Hebert Law Center students reach their full potential.
“I will always be grateful for the education I received at LSU Law and the opportunities it provided me,” he said, “and I am honored to give back to the Law Center and help the students in any way I can.”