The Judge, as he is called by his friends, is a lifetime member of this museum. He shared with the attendees a great powerpoint presentation of his experience as a tail-hooker aboard the USS Princeton (CV-37), and as an aviator deployed to the Western Pacific flying noncombat missions aboard a Grumman AF Guardian. He also related how he once safely landed his plane on a South Florida roadway! During his navy service, Cristol received the Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal, and the Navy Achievement Medal.
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The Honorable A. Jay Cristol served as a Special Assistant Attorney General of Florida from 1959 to 1965 and as a trustee in bankruptcy from 1977 to 1985. He was appointed a United States Bankruptcy Judge for the Southern District of Florida on April 17, 1985. He served as that district’s Chief Bankruptcy Judge from 1993 until 1999. He served his country as a Captain in the Naval Reserve for 18 years as a naval aviator, first as a tail-hooker operating day and night from the aircraft carrier Princeton. Then he qualified as a four engine transport plane commander. He flew operational missions in the South China Sea during the Tachen evacuation in 1954. Later he flew missions during the Cuban Missile Crisis and in the 60's he flew volunteer air lift missions to Vietnam. He then spent another 20 years as a Navy JAG. During the 1980's the Department of Defense sent him to the International Institute at San Remo, Italy to teach Law of Naval Warfare to senior military officers from many nations.
Judge Cristol received his B.A. degree from the University of Miami, and his J.D. degree, cum laude, from the University of Miami School of Law where he was Research Editor of the Law Review and the recipient of other honors. He taught an advanced bankruptcy course as an adjunct professor at the University of Miami School for the past 20years. He received his Ph.D. from the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Miami on May 9, l997 for his dissertation on the Liberty incident. During his distinguished career as a jurist, Judge Cristol has presided over many high profile bankruptcy cases including the chapter 11 reorganizations of General Development Corporation (one of the largest bankruptcy reorganization cases in U.S. history), Prime Motor Inns, Flannigans, Banco Latino International, Arrow Air and Pan American Airways. The Pan Am plan was confirmed after only four months and the reorganized company was so pleased with the results of its bankruptcy case that its first new aircraft was named the Clipper A. Jay Cristol. Arrow Air followed suit with a DC-8 named Judge A. Jay Cristol.
Judge Cristol has spoken on the Liberty incident at Harvard University, the Naval Historical Center, the National Security Agency, the Department of State, in Cairo, Egypt at the request of the Egyptian military, and at many colleges in the U.S. and abroad. He has also spoken on bankruptcy matters at the Pentagon, Navy JAG Headquarters and many military law events.
Judge Cristol’s first book, The Liberty Incident, was published by Brassey’s and released in June 2002. His second book, The Liberty Incident Revealed, was published by the United States Naval Institute Press in September 2013.