Navy Flag Officer Biography

Vice Admiral James W. Houck

Judge Advocate General's Corps
United States Navy Judge Advocate General

Vice Admiral James W. Houck


Vice Admiral Houck became the 41st judge advocate general (JAG) of the Navy, Aug. 14, 2009. As the judge advocate general, Houck is the principal military legal counsel to the secretary of the Navy and chief of Naval Operations and serves as the Department of Defense representative for ocean policy affairs (REPOPA). He leads the attorneys, enlisted legalmen, and civilian employees of the worldwide Navy JAG Corps community.

Following graduation from the United States Naval Academy, Houck qualified as a Surface Warfare officer aboard the destroyer USS Caron (DD 970). He then entered the Navy's Law Education Program and graduated from the University of Michigan Law School. He later earned a Master of Laws (International and Comparative Law) from the Georgetown University Law Center.

Houck served from 2006-2009 as the deputy JAG of the Navy and commander, Naval Legal Service Command. As commander, Naval Legal Service Command, Houck was charged with providing prosecution and other command services to shore and afloat commands through nine Region Legal Service Offices as well as defense counsel, personal representation, and legal assistance services for individual sailors through eight regional Naval Legal Service Offices.

Before his appointment to flag rank, he served as special assistant for Legal and Legislative Matters to the secretary of the Navy and later as special counsel to the chief of Naval Operations. He also served as the senior staff judge advocate for the commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command/U.S. Atlantic Fleet as well as the commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. 5th Fleet in Bahrain. In command, he served as commanding officer, Naval Legal Service Office, North Central.

Houck's other assignments include service in the Office of the Legal Counsel to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Navy Office of Legislative Affairs, and in the Office of the Judge Advocate General of the Navy, both as executive assistant to the JAG and as special assistant for Transformation, the JAG Corps' lead strategic planner. He began his legal career first as a trial counsel (prosecutor) and then as a defense counsel at Naval Station Mayport, Fla.

Houck's personal decorations include the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service medal, the Legion of Merit (five awards), the Defense Meritorious Service Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal (three awards), the Navy Commendation Medal (two awards) and the Navy Achievement Medal.


Updated: 22 August 2013