Navy JAG Captain (Ret.) Bethany Payton-O’Brien

Navy JAG Captain (Ret.) Bethany Payton-O’Brien

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Practice Areas
  • Military Law
  • Security Clearance Representation
  • Criminal Law
  • Administrative Law
Practice Locations
  • San Diego, CA

A partner at Tully Rinckey PLLC’s San Diego office, Bethany focuses her practice on security clearance representation and military law, including litigation, dispute resolution, criminal law and administrative law. She can represent clients before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, as well as all military review boards and trial courts

Prior to joining Tully Rinckey PLLC, Bethany retired from the Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG), where she achieved the rank of Captain.  Prior to joining the firm, she was a Senior Military Judge for the Navy-Marine Corps Trial Judiciary, Southwest District, Western Judicial Circuit, in San Diego.  She adjudicated the full spectrum of over 200  felony and misdemeanor criminal cases, including numerous sexual assault, fraud, property crime and drug cases, as well as officer misconduct. She presided over all aspects of the court-martial process, and she managed, supervised and trained judges, law clerks and paralegals.   In addition to serving as Trial Judge, Bethany previously was a Senior Appellate Judge on the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals, where she adjudicated over 500 criminal appeals.  Bethany has prosecuted and defended military members in over 150 felony and misdemeanor cases, with offenses ranging from larceny to murder.  She also served as Staff Judge Advocate to numerous flag officers during her career.  Besides San Diego, Bethany has served in Washington, D.C.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Norfolk, Va.; Groton, Conn.; Bremerton, Wash.; and Yokosuka, Japan.  Bethany received the Navy JAG Corps’ certification in the Military Justice Litigation Qualification track in 2008.

Bethany received her Master of Laws degree in trial advocacy from California Western School of Law and she earned a Certificate in Judicial Development in General Jurisdiction Trial Skills from the National Judicial College. She earned her Bachelor of Arts’  degree from Wayne State University and her Juris Doctorate from DePaul College of Law.

Besides her legal work, Bethany has taught at military law symposiums in India and Mexico, and conducted numerous trainings for Navy personnel on the subjects of litigation and Victim-Witness Advocacy.  She published an article in the Federal Criminal Defense Journal.  She is a member of the Chicago Bar Association, as well as  the National Association of Women Judges, where she serves on the Military Courts Committee.

Outside the firm, Bethany serves as a volunteer for the Girl Scouts and the Parent Teacher Student Association at her child’s school.

NOT ADMITTED TO THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA BAR. CA PRACTICE LIMITED TO PROVIDING LEGAL SERVICES TO MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC SOLELY BEFORE A SPECIAL COURT, DEPARTMENT, OR AGENCY OF THE UNITED STATES. ADMITTED TO PRACTICE IN ILLINOIS.

Articles and Publications

  • “Guns Don’t Kill – Games, Movies, Books and Songs Do: The Prosecution’s Continued Quest to Blame Something Else,” Federal Criminal Defense Journal, Fall 2008, Vol. 1

Court & Bar Admissions

  • Illinois
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces

Education

  • LL.M: California Western School of Law, 2008
  • JD: DePaul College of Law, 1994
  • BA: Wayne State University, 1989

Awards

  • Legion of Merit (2 awards)
  • Meritorious Service Medal (2 awards)
  • Navy-Marine Corps Commendation Medal (5 awards)
  • Navy Achievement Medal
  • Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal

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