Judge Advocacy: More than punishments

  • Published
  • 4FW JA

Most Airmen associate judge advocate teams with courts-martial, non-judicial punishment and legal troubles, but that's not all they do.

“We’ve got civil law, general law, operations law, leadership advisory and military justice,” said Airman Abigail Paque, 4th FW military justice paralegal.

The 24 member team rotates through each section of law every six months. While military justice is a big part of JA, there are diverse aspects of the team’s roles which contributes to Air Combat Command’s mission of supporting global implementation of national security.

“Our office's mission is ‘Timely, Accurate, and Actionable Legal Advice,” said Staff Sgt. Lauren Whitson, 4th FW civil law paralegal. “While our vision is to ‘Enhance lethality, readiness, and professionalism by delivering reliable support at the speed of relevance.”

JA’’s primary mission is to advise leaders and units on a wide array of topics including ethics, acquisitions, fiscal requirements, laws, regulations and operations.

“We of course do the military justice stuff like courts martial and article 15s, but we also do a lot of legal reviews; when there are events that happen on base, it has to go through JA, because we have to make sure it's legal,” said Paque. “We also do different things like wills, power-of-attorney and notaries.”

The legal advice provided by the JA team not only arms Airmen with sound guidance, it also allows them to assess risks. This advisory role provides leaders with counsel, which helps navigate complex challenges.

JA has a unique working environment that allows officers and enlisted personnel to work side-by-side.

“Coming from a completely different career field prior to working in the judge advocate's office, it was a complete culture shock,” said Whitson. “Working in the legal office you actually work and strategize with officers every day and it's mind blowing how many different angles we use to solve problems and the different approaches we use to do so.”

In addition to advising leaders, handling international affairs and delivering legal services across the wing, the team also oversees legal activities that fall under 15th Air Force and all 4th FW subordinate units.

While this functional oversight role is an important part of the JA mission, Paque said the best part of the job is helping victims.

”On the justice side of things, people don't always see us as helping people,” said Paque. They think that we are all punishments. Sometimes there are cases where there are victims involved and they want justice. When we are able to help them get it, it's rewarding”

The team diversity and closeness is what makes JA such a strong asset to the wing mission.

“There is no better team I would enjoy working with than this team,” said Senior Master Sgt. Stephanie Miller, 4th FW judge advocate superintendent. “Not only can they be lethal, ready and professional but they truly love their jobs and put their best foot forward every day to become better and support this mission to the best of their abilities. We have fun together, and we laugh a lot because we love what we do and I'm so proud to work with each and every one of them.”