By Mark Adam
Col. Denise Lind ’82 investigated the bench in the Girvin and Ferlazzo Moot Courtroom in Siena Hall while she was visiting campus on Veterans Day. It’s a familiar site for the judge who has spent her career in military courtrooms. She has been a military judge in the Army JAG Corps at two different times, serving in Germany (2004-06) and in the Washington, D.C., area (2009-13). Just recently, she became an associate judge in the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals.
Lind gave the keynote address at Siena’s third annual Veterans Recognition Dinner, which honors Siena veterans and ROTC cadets. Earlier that day, Lind toured campus and visited with students in the Pre-Law Program and ROTC’s Mohawk Battalion, of which Siena is the host institution.
“It’s humbling to be back here,” Lind said at the time. “This is the Siena that I remember.”
Lind received a three-year ROTC scholarship to attend Siena where she majored in political science and was commissioned as an officer. She always liked politics and government, but her career path was still unclear as she entered college. A senior year internship in the law department at the New York State Commission of Corrections changed that. It taught her how to conduct legal research and to craft legal prose.
“Siena gave me a sense of purpose,” she said.
Lind was accepted into the Judge Advocate General Corps in 1986 after she graduated from Albany Law School. She has served as both a prosecuting and defense attorney prior to becoming a judge. Her assignments have included special assistant U.S. attorney in Fort Knox, Ky., litigation attorney in Arlington, Va., senior defense counsel in Hawaii, staff judge advocate in Virginia and circuit judge in Germany as well as in Arlington.
In Lind’s most publicized trial, the WikiLeaks case, she presided over Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning’s court martial. The trial made international news and stirred debate over whether Manning, who sent classified documents to WikiLeaks, was a whistleblower or a traitor. Lind decided the case alone because Manning had waived an enlisted and officer panel. She found him guilty on 20 counts, but acquitted him of the most serious charge of aiding the enemy, and sentenced him to 35 years in prison.
Lind has handled several high-profile cases.
“What I try to do in these cases is treat them the same as every other case,” Lind said.
From her beginnings at Siena, when an interest in the law was sparked, to the waning years of her military career, Lind has loved her work. She believes in the importance of the justice system and values the part she plays in it.
“Not everyone is going to walk out of the courtroom happy, but I hope when they walk out of mine that everybody feels that the rules were followed and justice was served.”