JA, ADC, SVC - What does it all mean?

  • Published
  • 17th Training Wing Judge Advocate General
“Go see legal,” that’s the direction Airmen often receive when facing difficult questions, such as how to respond to an administrative counseling. While good advice, it raises the question – which legal? The base legal office, the Area Defense Counsel and the Special Victims’ Counsel, are the three military legal offices an Airman may consult. This article tries to provide guidance on which legal office to go to and when to go.

Base Legal Office (17th Training Wing Legal Office)

The base legal offices provide assistance to eligible members on personal, civil legal problems. Eligible members include active-duty personnel, reservist on orders, retirees and dependents. Judge Advocates can help eligible members with Wills, Living Wills, Powers of Attorney, Landlord-Tenant Issues, Consumer Affairs, Service Members Civil Relief Act and Veterans’ Reemployment Rights Issues, Domestic Relations, Notary Services and Tax Assistance.

Legal assistance attorneys cannot counsel members on business enterprises, criminal issues, law of armed conflict issues, private organizations, real estate transactions or any matter in which the Air Force has an interest. Further, legal assistance attorneys may not represent members in civilian court or administrative proceedings. Legal offices also cannot provide services to a member on someone else’s behalf.

Goodfellow’s legal office provides assistance by appointment or walk-in. Members can schedule an appointment, especially if seeking a Will, by calling 325-654-3203. The legal office accepts walk-ins on Tuesdays from 9 to 10 a.m. and Thursdays from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Area Defense Counsel

The ADC provides Air Force members independent legal representation. Each ADC is an experienced and certified Judge Advocate. An ADC can provide members counsel and representation for court-martials, non-judicial punishment, administrative discharges, investigations and all other adverse actions such as responses to Letters of Reprimand. Most members will be represented by the on-base ADC, but some may be represented by an ADC at another base, depending on the particular circumstances.

A fundamental feature of the ADC is the office’s independence from the local chain of command. This arrangement, which avoids a potential conflict of interest and possible command influence, permits the ADC to vigorously and ethically represent the member. In contrast to the base legal office, the ADC is an advocate for the member. Capt. Patrick Clary is Goodfellow’s ADC and may be reached at 325-653-5070.

Special Victims’ Counsel

On Jan. 28, 2013, the Air Force led the response to sexual assault with the creation of the SVC program. SVCs are certified Judge Advocates that provide victims of sexual assault, sexual misconduct and stalking with independent representation to protect the victim’s rights throughout the investigation and prosecution process.

Like the ADC, SVCs are independent from the local chain of command. Instead of being advisors to the local commanders like the legal office, SVCs are advocates for their clients. As such, SVCs advocate for their clients and help them understand the investigation and military justice process. While Goodfellow does not currently have a SVC, one will be added in summer 2016. In the interim, please contact the base legal office or Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office to request an SVC.

The legal office will use Trials and Tribulations to share information regarding military justice and discipline topics that can be distributed to Airmen. This edition discusses the different legal services provided by the base legal office, the Area Defense Counsel and Special Victim’s Counsel.