Major Gloria A. Downey was medically retired from the Judge Advocate General’s Corps of the United States Air Force in May 2009. Prior to her retirement, she was hand-selected by the Judge Advocate General of the United Sates Air Force to fill a highly sought-after Senior Defense Counsel position. Her last assignment before retirement was as an Assistant Staff Judge Advocate for the 435th Air Base Wing law office at Ramstein AB, Germany. Major Downey served as the Chief of Litigation while also filling a variety of other roles including Deputy Staff Judge Advocate and working with junior trial counsel as the Senior Litigation Attorney. While assigned to Ramstein Air Base, then-Captain Downey deployed to Baghdad in 2007 where she prosecuted terrorists in the Central Criminal Court of Iraq.
Major Downey was very actively involved in the military’s sexual assault crisis and response, both as a prosecutor and defense attorney. As a prosecutor, Major Downey: created sexual assault prevention seminars for dormitory residents which were benchmarked by the Air Force and the Department of Defense; was appointed to respond to a high-level inquiry by the Department of Defense regarding the prosecution and defense of sexual assault allegations in the military; and was the driving force behind expanding rape prosecutions to include cases of rape based on psychological force alone. As a defense attorney, Major Downey developed and disseminated a new strategy for overcoming rape shield laws in appropriate cases.
Major Downey’s other JAG assignments were as the Area Defense Counsel at Osan Air Base, Republic of South Korea where she represented hundreds of military members through all aspects of their military justice actions including dozens of courts-martial and discharge boards. Major Downey was competitively selected to this position while serving as Senior Litigation Attorney and Chief of Military Justice at Travis AFB, California. In these roles, Major Downey served as an “in-house” circuit trial counsel for the 60th Air Mobility Wing legal office assisting trial counsel in the preparation and prosecution of military justice cases while also performing duties as the Chief of Military Justice, overseeing the base’s criminal and disciplinary program.
Major Downey was commissioned as a Judge Advocate in 2002. Prior to being commissioned as a JAG, she served as an Assistant Public Defender in Ocala, Florida and Miami, Florida. She worked on all levels of the Florida criminal justice system including felony, misdemeanor, juvenile and traffic divisions. During her four years as a public defender, she represented thousands of indigent clients facing criminal prosecution. Major Downey was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1997, after graduating from the University of Miami School of Law in 1996 and the University of Florida, with a focus on Political Science and Sociology, in 1993. Climbing up and out of the poverty and disillusionment of the life she was born into, Major Downey received her GED at 16 years old, after completing only the eighth grade, then attended and graduated from Broward Community College at 18 years old, earning entry into her state’s flagship university.
While deployed to Baghdad, Major Downey was injured during multiple mortar and rocket attacks, rendering her unfit for further military service. Despite her pending medical retirement, Major Downey’s supervision pressed for her promotion to Major in recognition of her outstanding service. Major Downey was permanently retired as a Major in May 2009. Major Downey became a member of the California Bar in May 2009; she lives in California. Due to the limitations of her physical and emotional injuries, Major Downey practiced law on a Pro Bono basis from 2009 through 2022; she is now inactive.
In 2015, Major Downey earned her Master of Fine Arts in Directing from Academy of Art University in San Francisco, California and works to share her unique experiences and voice with the world through the medium of filmmaking, what she calls "Litigation by Other Means". Her thesis film, Forgive Me Father, received numerous awards and was included in several film festivals. In 2021, Major Downey's documentary feature Women of War: Invisible made its World Premiere at The Lady Filmmaker's Film Festival in Beverly Hills, California. The film went on to win Best Feature at The Worldwide Women's Film Festival in Phoenix, Arizona in 2022 and was recently selected for the 2022 Shockfest Film Festival.
Currently, Major Downey is writing a series, Like Diamonds for the Flies, encapsulating her personal experiences as a JAG serving under the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy, a prosecutor of terrorists in The Central Criminal Court of Iraq, and the subject of fifteen years of apathy, abuse and neglect by the United States Air Force and the Department of Veteran's Affairs after her combat service. She recently completed a documentary film regarding her experience as a prosecutor in Iraq, What I Did in the War, which will make its World Premiere in 2023. The film was selected as Best Documentary at Academy Art University's 2022 NxtUp Fest. Additionally, Major Downey's screenplay Veteran's Crisis Line was selected as Best Screenplay at Academy Art University's 2022 NxtUp Fest. Major Downey will produce Veteran's Crisis Line as a short film at Academy of Art University in 2023.
Major Downey currently has two other works in progress, both based on the legacy of The Indian Wars. The documentary feature film Women of War: Untouchable, made in cooperation with residents of the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, will be completed in 2022. The screenplay for her radical intersectional feminist epic film Malicious Disobedience will be completed in 2023. Major Downey will complete her Master of Arts in Screenwriting at Academy of Art University in San Francisco, California in 2023.