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Area Defense Counsel Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
HURLBURT FIELD, FL--Col. Mark Alsid, vice commander, 1st Special Operations Wing, (left) and Col. Karen Mayberry, Defense Trial Division chief, Judge Advocate Justice Defense Department, cut the ribbon to offically open the Area Defense Counsel building, Jun 12. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Orly N. Tyrell)
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ADC officially opens new digs

Posted 6/12/2009   Updated 6/12/2009 Email story   Print story


by Mark Lazane
1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

6/12/2009 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- The Hurlburt Field Area Defense Counsel officially moved into their larger, updated office building on Friday in a short mid-afternoon ribbon cutting ceremony here. 

The new building is located on Independence Road in building 90086, next to the auto care section of the Shopette. 

The ribbon cutting was the culmination of a vision the ADC office had about a year ago. 

Stuffed to the gills in their old location, the ADC personnel knew they needed a new building, so one day they put pen to paper and developed a "dream sheet" of what a new building would include. 

Then, they began to talk with the Civil Engineering personnel and had some blueprints drawn up. 

"When they told me they were hoping for a new building, I figured they would get a couple rooms in an office somewhere that already had people in it," said Col. Karen Mayberry, the Defense Trial Division chief of the Judge Advocate Justice Defense Department at Bolling AFB in Washington. 

With plans and determination in hand, the ADC personnel continued pushing through the steps necessary to make the paper plans develop into concrete and metal. 

With help from the 1st Special Operations Wing and Air Force Special Operations Command, they were quickly able to turn their dreams into reality. 

The new building is a significant upgrade over the old facility, and not just because of its increase in size from 1300 square feet to over 2400 square feet, said Capt. Matthew McCall, one of two Area Defense Counselors for Hurlburt Field. 

"It's not just the size," said Capt. McCall. "It's the capabilities that the new office provides us. It allows us to prepare for our cases better." 

Colonel Mayberry agrees. 

"This building is the new standard for ADC offices throughout the Air Force," said Colonel Mayberry. "This is not your typical ADC office, though I would like it to be a prototype building for us to follow from now on." 

The reason for the move is one that is familiar to personnel working in many units on base: with the operational tempo high, there is a need to bring in additional personnel to handle the workload, said Capt. McCall. 

In the previous building, at least four individuals shared an office full time. 

"It was like we were sitting on each other's laps," said Capt. McCall. 

In addition, visiting lawyers from other bases routinely used the building as a central location to conduct their cases. This is a common practice among ADCs. 

The ADC's primary mission is to represent and defend military members accused of violating the Uniformed Code of Military Justice. This includes representing members in courts-martial and non-judicial punishment actions, such as Article 15s. The ADC also advises military members of their rights while they are under investigation. 

While problems with space are not unique to Hurlburt Field, in this case it did create an environment that was less-than-desirable in order for the ADC to provide their clients with the appropriate representation. 

The new building not only has more space in which to work, it also meets technology requirements that an ADC requires, such as access to a secure connection, which enables access to classified material that may be critical to their case, said Capt. McCall. 

An ADC is a licensed attorney who has an undergraduate degree, a law degree, and has passed a state bar examination, said Capt. McCall.

ADCs are judge advocates and typically worked in a base legal office for several years before being selected to become an ADC. The ADC position is a full-time job and usually lasts for two years.

"I enjoy helping my clients," said Capt. McCall. "As a Judge Advocate General (JAG) in the legal office, I understood that the Air Force was my client, but it's different when you're helping a real person with real problems. A big part of my job is just helping young Airmen articulate their side of the story when they have gotten into trouble. Often, when both sides of the story come out, things are not as bad as they may have first seemed."

"An important distinction for the ADC is that we do not work for anyone on base," said Capt. McCall. "By that I mean that my chain of command is in Washington and I do not report to any commander on base or the base legal office. This independence is necessary because the ADC is expected to argue vigorously on behalf of their clients, against the command, if necessary."

Not all cases end up being drawn-out investigations or settled in a courtroom, however.

"Sometimes, all it takes is helping a client communicate better with his supervisors," said Capt. McCall. "Sometimes it requires proving that the client didn't do what he was alleged to have done. We can't guarantee results, but the earlier we get involved the more we can typically do to help. Even if an Airman's problems fall outside the scope of our work, we can usually at least point them in the right direction."

With a new building, the ADC is better prepared to help Airman do exactly that.

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