United States Marine Corps
Colonel John J. Stephens

Colonel John Stephens received his B.A. in History with Honors from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, where he was captain of the track and field team and was later inducted into its athletics hall of fame. After graduating in 1998, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. From 1998 until 2004, he served with Third Battalion, Second Marine Regiment; 6th Marine Regiment; and Marine Barracks Washington.

Colonel Stephens left active duty, working full-time in the defense industry while attending Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law in the evening. At Catholic, he was the Executive Editor of the Journal of Law, Philosophy, and Culture and worked at a U.S. Attorneys’ Office. After graduating, Colonel Stephens clerked at the District of Columbia Court of Appeals and then entered private practice in general litigation with the firm of Lawson & Silek in his hometown of Winchester, Virginia.

In 2010, Colonel Stephens returned to active duty.  Since then, he has served as Senior Defense Counsel at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point, NC; Regional Defense Counsel for the Eastern Region; Senior Trial Counsel MCAS Cherry Point, NC; Deputy Director of the Navy-Marine Corps Appellate Defense Division; Senior Trial Counsel at Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) Parris Island; and Staff Judge Advocate for MCRD Parris Island.

In 2019, Colonel Stephens was assigned to the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals (NMCCA) as a Judge and then Senior Judge. Colonel Stephens authored over 35 opinions while on the NMCCA, including 15 published opinions. In addition, he also served as a judge for the U.S. Court of Military Commission Review. From 2022 to 2023, Colonel Stephens served as the Circuit Military Judge for the Northern Judicial Circuit and also acted as the Deputy Chief of the Navy-Marine Trial Judiciary. He also represented the Marine Corps on the Military Sentencing Parameters and Criteria Board.

In July 2023, Colonel Stephens was assigned to be the Deputy Director for Military Justice at Judge Advocate Division and participated in a Joint study team for the Deputy Secretary of Defense concerning court-martial timelines. In November 2023, he was assigned as Deputy Chief Defense Counsel of the Marine Corps.  He assumed his current duties as the Chief Defense Counsel of the Marine Corps in March 2024.

His personal awards include the Meritorious Service Medal (third gold star in lieu of fourth award), the Navy Commendation Medal, and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (gold star in lieu of second award). He is a graduate, with honors, from Marine Corps Command and Staff College and from Air War College.

Marine Corps Defense Services Organization