New ADC defends Airmen’s rights

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jarrod Grammel
  • 23d Wing Public Affairs
Standing up for the little guy is something the Moody Area Defense Counsel (ADC) does every day. When an Airman of any rank finds themselves at the wrong end of an adverse action, the ADC is there to provide their help and knowledge, free of charge to active-duty service members.

As an experienced prosecutor and paralegal, Moody's newest ADC team, U.S. Air Force Capt. Paul Gesl and Senior Airman Brittney Jones, know how to best advise and defend Airmen.

"Our job is to represent Airmen during any adverse action, anything from a letter of counseling to a court-martial," said Gesl, Moody's ADC. "We work for the Airmen to ensure they have the best defense possible.

"I think the job is incredibly important," he added. "Today, Airmen make a lot of sacrifices, and I want to ensure their rights are protected."

Gesl is a graduate of Canisius College, N.Y., and Rutgers School of Law, and passed the bar exam in both New Jersey and New York. He joined the Air Force in 2007 and spent three years at Yokota Air Base, Japan, as a Judge Advocate General (JAG) until he moved to the legal office at Moody in 2010. Then in June 2012, he moved to the Moody ADC office.

"The best part is working with the Airmen," he said. "There is a lot of satisfaction with a successful case and being able to help out an Airman.

"I want to continue on in the Air Force," he added. "I always considered this a career job."

Jones, Moody's defense paralegal, is also experienced at prosecution. She arrived at Moody in 2009 after completing technical training at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. Then in January 2012, she was chosen to move to the Moody ADC office.

"I felt it was a good opportunity to see what happens on the other side," said Jones. "While I was working in the legal office, I didn't get to interact with the Airmen. Since I'm an Airman myself, most Airmen feel more comfortable talking to me. We want to let them know that someone does care.

"I plan on staying in the Air Force and making this a career," she added. "I love my job."

Jones' and Gesl's experience in a base legal office are not unusual according to the U.S. Air Force Academy's legal office page regarding ADCs.

"Most ADCs are experienced prosecutors," reads the website. "This will help with the defense of your case, because an ADC with prosecutorial experience can anticipate what prosecutors will do or what type of punishment your commander may levy. Because of their experience in the base legal office, they can also tell you from experience why certain things happen."

This experience is vital to ADCs and defense teams, which are often times an Airman's only resource during an adverse action.

"Even a small adverse action can have career impacts," said Gesl. "We work with the Airman and help them put together the best defense possible, since these actions can be life changing."

However, even small adverse actions provide challenges for the defense teams.

"The biggest challenge is dealing with smaller actions, because they usually take place within a shorter time-frame," said Gesl. "That means we have a shorter amount of time to get to know the client, learn the case, and put together a good response."

One unique aspect of the ADC and the defense teams is their strict policy of confidentiality. Chaplains and defense team members are the only people who follow this policy.

Another unique aspect of the defense team is their chain of command. To prevent conflicts of interest, the team falls under a completely separate chain of command, the Air Force Legal Operations Agency.

"Something a lot of people don't realize is that we have a completely separate chain of command," said Gesl. "We are independent from the wing, so we cannot be influenced by the chain of command when preparing a defense."

With their experience and the unique circumstances of the job, the new defense team strives to protect the rights of all Airmen by offering their counsel to those in need.