A. Jay Cristol

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Ahron Jay Cristol (born September 29, 1929) is the chief judge of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida, a lecturer in law of naval warfare, and a former U.S. Navy aviator and lawyer (JAG).[1][2]

Military career[edit]

Grumman AF Guardian AF-2W

In November 1951, during the Korean war, Cristol joined the US Navy. After receiving his Wings in 1953, he deployed to the Western Pacific and flew noncombat missions on the Grumman AF Guardian. Upon returning to the US, Cristol left active duty and joined the Naval Reserve.

In 1958, Cristol received his B.A degree from the University of Miami. In 1959, he received his J.D. degree from the University of Miami School of Law[2]

He graduated from Naval Justice School and served as a Judge Advocate General Corps Navy lawyer (JAG) for another twenty years.

In 1983, Cristol was appointed an honorary professor of the Naval Justice School. During the 1980s, he was sent to the International Institute of Humanitarian Law at Sanremo to lecture on Law of Naval warfare.[2]

Civilian career[edit]

After retiring in 1988, Cristol became a civil lawyer, and served as Special Assistant Attorney General of Florida.[2] In 1985, he was appointed chief U.S. bankruptcy judge of the Southern District of Florida.

He also became an adjunct professor at the University of Miami School of Law, teaching Reorganization in Bankruptcy.[3] He enrolled in the Graduate School of International Studies of that institution, where he spent ten years researching the USS Liberty incident of 8 June 1967. In 1997, he earned a Ph.D. degree on this work.[2][3] In his Ph.D. thesis, Cristol analyzed the official investigations of the Liberty incident and conducted 458 interviews. Freedom of Information Act requests were used to obtain declassification of the Clark Clifford Report, 22 hot line messages, 22 National Security Agency documents and 31 National Security Council documents. Cristol was also able to obtain classified Israeli documents. The conclusion of the thesis confirmed the official investigations and demonstrated that the attack on the USS Liberty was a mistake.[4]

Following completion of the thesis, Cristol sued the National Security Agency under the Freedom of Information Act and in 2004, the agency released audio tapes collected by an NSA unit aboard a Navy Lockheed EC-121 Warning Star aircraft flying near the scene of the USS Liberty attack. Subsequently, he published a book about the Liberty incident, "The Liberty Incident: The 1967 Attack on the U.S. Navy Spy Ship".[5] Cristol said the tapes show the attack was an accident, and that the Israelis mistook the ship for an Egyptian one.[6] However, on 2 October 2007, the Chicago Tribune published a special report into the attack, containing numerous previously unreported quotes from former military personnel with first-hand knowledge of the incident, which cast doubt on Cristol's conclusions.[7]

In 2007, Judge Cristol awarded the rights of O.J. Simpson's book If I Did It to the family of Ronald Goldman to satisfy a $38 million wrongful death judgment against Simpson.[8]

Awards and honors[edit]

During his navy service, Cristol received the Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal, and the Navy Achievement Medal.[2]

In 1998, Pan Am sold to Guilford Transportation, in a transaction which removed Pan Am from bankruptcy. Consequently, the company honored Cristol, who presided over the speedy reorganization, by naming one of their 727-225 aircraft, (Registration number N361PA), the Clipper A. Jay Cristol.[9][10] After presiding over the reorganization of Arrow Air,[11][12] he was honored by having an Arrow Air Douglas DC-8-62 (Reg. N8968U) named the "Judge A. Jay Cristol."[5][13]

Cristol is a founding member of the National Museum of Naval Aviation at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida and a founding member and historian of the Wings Over Miami aircraft museum in Miami.

In 2003, the Greater Miami Aviation Association honored Cristol with their Glenn Curtiss Award which recognizes the contributions of an individual to improve the South Florida community.[14] On February 1, 2007, St. Thomas University School of Law honored Cristol with its Outstanding Jurist Award.


  • "Theoretical Legal Problems in Converting the Central and Eastern European Military Industrial Complex to a Free Market Economy," 27 Foundation Notes, Naval War College (Spring 1996).
  • The Liberty Incident (1997), Ph.D. dissertation, University of Miami.
  • Bankruptcy Alchemy: Conversion of Nothing to Golden Opportunity. St. Thomas Law Review 9(1997):305. (with Ali Sarmiento Walden)
  • The Liberty Incident: The 1967 Attack on the U.S. Navy Spy Ship. Washington (DC): Brassey's Military, 2002. ISBN 1-574-88536-7 OCLC 49249144
  • "The USS Liberty and the Role of Intelligence". Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, Vol. XIX, Dept. Of State (Washington D.C. 2004). Cristol, Castle and Hadden.


  1. ^ The Tailhook Association. Turner Publishing Company. p. 96
  2. ^ a b c d e f BIOGRAPHIES OF FEDERAL COURT JUDGES SITTING IN FLORIDA. p.5-6. Lawyers diary and manual.
  3. ^ a b JD ADJUNCT FACULTY Archived December 10, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.. University of Miami School of Law
  4. ^ Cristol, A Jay, "The Liberty incident" (1997). Dissertations from ProQuest. Paper 3444.
  5. ^ a b The Libery Incident: About the Author
  6. ^ David Ensor. USS Liberty attack tapes released. CNN. Thursday, July 10, 2003
  7. ^ John Crewdson (2 October 2007). "New revelations in attack on American spy ship". Chicago Tribune. 
  8. ^ Goldmans awarded rights to O.J. book. Chicago Tribune. July 31, 2007.
  9. ^ Almanac of the federal judiciary, Volumes 1-2. p. 81
  10. ^ Scott Lindsell (Photo), Clipper A. Jay Cristol
  11. ^ Miami Herald. Jan. 30, 2004. Business briefs, Air Cargo.
  12. ^ Arrow Air Emerging From Bankruptcy. Business Wire. June 10, 2004
  13. ^ Graham Hitchen. (Photo) N8968U (cn 46069/465) The "Judge A Jay Cristol"
  14. ^ 2003 Glenn H. Curtiss Award Archived April 26, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.