Thomas W. Snook

Snook Dispute Resolution

Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33309

786-773-1162


Admiralty Law, Boating Accident, Construction, Disability Insurance, Environmental, Hurricane Claims, International, Maritime, Medical Malpractice, Toxic Tort

Captain Thomas Snook is the former Chief Trial Judge of the Coast Guard and a retired United States Administrative Law Judge.

He is a Florida Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil Mediator.

After graduating from the United States Coast Guard Academy his first seagoing assignment was electrical officer on the icebreaker, USCGC Edisto. After two arctic deployments, he was scheduled to deploy to Antarctica. However, because of the ongoing Vietnam war, he volunteered for: “Any Ship Going to Vietnam.”  He was immediately directed to attend damage control school and report to the USCGC Mendota for a year-long combat deployment to Vietnam, as damage control assistant.

While deployed off the coast of Vietnam he made the decision to attend law school to bring about change within the system.  En route home he requested a transfer to a Marine Inspection Office (MIO) because he felt being a marine investigating officer would help him prepare for a legal career in the Coast Guard. Soon after returning to his home port, he was ordered to MIO New Orleans, where he worked in the licensing, documentation, inspection and investigation departments.

As an investigating officer he represented the government in hearings before a Coast Guard  Administrative Law Judge involving marine casualties and merchant mariner misconduct. An important casualty he investigated was a Shell Oil rig blowout and explosion with multiple loss of life and injury.

He graduated from Syracuse University Law School with honors and was editor-in-chief of the international law journal. During his first legal assignment on Governors Island, N.Y., he obtained a master’s degree in international law from New York University, where he took an admiralty law course and was mentored by Nick Healy, a renowned admiralty law scholar.

His Coast Guard legal assignments include trial and defense counsel; government appellate counsel; assignment to the Department of Justice as a trial attorney litigating mainly oil pollution cases, including at the time the largest oil spill in United States history (NEPCO 140); staff judge advocate to Commander, Eighth District in New Orleans; assignment to the United States Mission to the United Nations as a Law of the Sea advisor; special court-martial judge; Chief Trial Judg and staff judge advocate to Commander, Atlantic Area.

While serving as the staff judge advocate in New Orleans, he taught “Governmental Regulation of Shipping and Commerce” in the graduate maritime law program at Tulane University.

After retiring from the Coast Guard he was an attorney in a marine insurance defense firm in Miami for three years, which included being the oil pollution representative for Skuld in Florida, before being appointed a United States Administrative Law Judge with the Social Security Administration in Miami.

As a judge for SSA for twenty years he has conducted thousands of non adversarial disability hearings. He is a recognized expert on the disability system. He was invited by Congress to testify on reforming the disability system. His testimony led to his photograph being featured on the front page of the Sunday Washington Post in an article about the disability system backlog.

He is a member of the Florida, New York and DC bars and a Proctor member of the Maritime Law Association. He has been an active member of the American Bar Association since law school and has been an elected member of the ABA House of delegates for eight years.

Lawyers would often ask him about becoming a judge. His initial response was always the same: “If you like people, being on the bench is the best part of the job.”

The same can be said for Mediation.

Mediator

 Florida Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil Mediator, 2016 - Present

Judicial Experience

United States Administrative Law Judge, Social Security Administration 1997 - 2016

Chief Trial Judge, U. S. Coast Guard  1988 - 1989

Other legal or Legally Related Experience

Admiralty and Maritime Defense Attorney, Hayden & Milliken, Coral Gables, Florida

Staff Judge Advocate, Atlantic Area, Atlantic Area, New York, N.Y., U.S. Coast Guard    

Staff Judge Advocate to Vice Admiral in charge of the largest Coast Guard field command. In charge of the largest field legal office in the Coast Guard. Supervised a twenty-attorney legal office.

Advisor, Political and Security Affairs, United States Permanent Mission to the United Nations, New York, N.Y.

Special Assistant to the Ambassador on Law of the Sea Issues.  Member of delegation that negotiated the first United Nations high seas drift-net fishing ban.

Staff Judge Advocate, Eighth District, Eighth Coast Guard District, New Orleans, La.

Trial Attorney, Admiralty and Shipping Section, Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.

Litigated all types of admiralty and maritime cases but focused on oil pollution cases.

Teaching Experience

Officer-in-Charge, Coast Guard Staff Judge Advocate Course, U.S. Coast Guard Training Command, Yorktown, VA

Selected by the Judge Advocate General to oversee the training all new staff judge advocates as a collateral duty.  Six-week course taught in the fall with the assistance of adjunct faculty.

Adjunct Professor, Tulane Law School, New Orleans, LA

Taught Governmental Regulation of Shipping and Commerce in the graduate maritime law program.  Classes consisted of 20-30 foreign and domestic law school graduates.

Other USCG Experience

Captain, U.S. Coast Guard, 1967 - 1993; Electrical Officer, USCGC Edisto (icebreaker); Damage Control Assistant, USCGC Mendota (included Vietnam combat tour); Marine inspector/investigating officer, New Orleans. 

Legal Organizations

American Bar Association, 1974 – Present, Judicial Division Delegate and Delegate at Large to the ABA House of Delegates 2011- Present; Chair, National Conference of Administrative Law Judiciary, Judicial Division 2010 – 11; Maritime Law Association, Proctor 1974 – Present; Federal Bar Association 1974 – Present; Southeastern Admiralty Law Institute 2016- Present; Association of Administrative Law Judges, IFPTE, AFL-CIO 1997 – 2016, Treasurer, 2004 to 2010, Regional VP 1999 - 2004, 2014 - 2016; Florida, District of Columbia and New York Bar Associations.

Civic Organizations

Gables Good Government Committee, Treasurer 2016 - Present; Miami-Dade Human Rights Commission Board 2017 - Present; Military Officers Association of America, Gold Coast Chapter, President 2016 - Present; American Legion - Life Member; VFW - Life Member.

Education

United States Coast Guard Academy, B.S.; Syracuse University School of Law, J.D. (with honors); New York University, L.L.M. (International Legal Studies).

Excelled academically from being president of high school National Honor Society to an “out-standing academic record” pursuing a master’s degree in international law at New York University.

Honors

U.S. Coast Guard Meritorious Service Medal, Commendation and Achievement Medals; U.S. Coast Guard Combat Action Ribbon (Vietnam);

Superior Honor Award, Department of State;

Honor Graduate, Military Judge Course, U.S. Army Staff Judge Advocate General School

ABA Distinguished Service Award (for Hurricane Andrew relief effort while on active duty);

American Bar Association Life Fellow;

Editor-in-Chief, Syracuse Journal of International Law and Commerce; National Semi-Finalist, Jessup International Moot Court competition;                                                                      

Admiralty Law and Conflicts-of-Law Awards, Syracuse Law School;

Chemistry Award, U.S. Coast Guard Academy

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1454 Mendavia Avenue
Coral Gables, FL 33146

P: 786-773-1162
F: 305-476-5452
E: [email protected]