ADC defends justice

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Ceaira Tinsley
  • 23d Wing Public Affairs

A stressful time in any Air Force career can occur when Airmen find themselves on the receiving end of an adverse action. While they may feel alone--they're not, because Moody's Area Defense Counsel supplies their counseling and litigation expertise to all active-duty service members.

Moody's ADC is here to assist Airmen of all ranks every step of the way in anything from Letters of Counseling to court-martials and their services are provided free of charge.

"Our [job] boils down to providing zealous representation for our individual clients," said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Broderick Edwards, Moody's ADC paralegal. "When the Air Force is taking some kind of adverse action against (Airmen)... our job is to try our best to set them up for success. The government pays me but I work for whoever is sitting across the desk from me."

Every client who visits ADC has a problem, some small and some big, but they all require immediate attention. Each case is different but most adverse actions leaves little time for preparation.

"Most things that we see like (Letter of Reprimands), Article 15s, and notification discharges, we only have three-duty days to respond to what's going on," said Edwards. "While they're telling us what happened, we're actively thinking about what the main things are that we need this person to be focused on over these next three days. 

"We'll talk to them about what we think they should be stressing in their response and we'll give them a template for it. We may even give them a template that they can give to other people for character letters."

Edwards urges Airmen to come immediately and when they first suspect that the military is going to take adverse actions against them.

Ultimately, every client determines the outcome of their individual scenario despite how diligently the duo works.

"We ask them to work on what we talked about but at the end of the day it is their responsibility to respond," said Edwards. "I always say, 'they have to build the car. I can detail it and make it look all pretty and painted, but I need you to help me.'"

The ADC assist Airmen with on base incidents but they do not assist with civilian cases unless they result in the military taking some action as a result.

The standard example of this is a driving under the influence. If an Airman is charged with a DUI downtown the ADC will not assist with this case unless the military also charges the Airman.  

For the most part, the sooner Airmen seek their assistance the better, but the only Airmen they absolutely can't help are the ones who never pursue their help.

"Honestly, I find that a lot of junior [enlisted tier] Airmen and even NCOs don't know that we help with LORs, LOCs and (Letter of Admonishments)," said Edwards.  "The AFI doesn't say that you can seek council it just says that you have three-duty days to respond. Sometimes I'll get a client who has had a lot of LOCs and LORs and now something bigger has happened and I see they've never responded and I've never seen this person before."

Although Moody's ADC may not be able to reach every Airman, the job aids Airmen in presenting their side to the story.

"The best part [about my job] is keeping the government in check, especially when they don't know the whole story," said Capt. Bradley Sauer, Moody's ADC attorney. "The government will often take action without knowing the whole story, not because they're lazy or incompetent, but because they haven't been given the whole story. I really enjoy making sure the entire story is out there so that justice can be done and this applies to every aspect of what we do."

Overall Edwards and Sauer both consider doing the work to defend Airmen and putting them in the best situation possible rewarding, but the job does come with its challenges.

"Being a part of everybody's worst problem is challenging," said Sauer.  "An LOR might not be the worst thing in someone's life, but sometimes it is. My days are spent with people who are getting court-martialed and going to jail for some serious stuff. It weighs on you after a while to always be dealing with somebody else's biggest problem, but that's the nature of the job."

The nature of the job also entails guaranteeing attorney-client privileges of confidentiality with the only exception being clients expressing their intent to commit future crimes.

Moody's ADC cannot disclose anything the client reveals to them in confidence, even if the client admits that he or she is guilty of a crime. There are exceptions to this policy which the ADC office can explain to the client in advance to prevent them from becoming an issue. This aspect of being an ADC is vital and an attorney's license to practice law depends on safeguarding the information clients give them.

"An Airman accused of a crime in the United States has the legal and moral right to force the government to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt," said Sauer. "That's the criminal justice system that we have in the United States and I think it a good one."

Airmen may not be familiar with the U.S. criminal justice system or the UCMJ and they can depend on Moody's ADC to be on their side fighting for justice.

"If somebody makes a complaint on a commander, the first thing that commander is going to do is call the legal office," said Edwards. "So, if the Air Force is taking action against you, you should do the same thing--call us."

For more information please contact the ADC at (229) 257-3421.