Mission

The Legal Assistance Division of the Offce of the Staff Judge Advocate is committed to providing quality legal assistance services to all eligible clients, including active-duty/activated Soldiers, Military Retirees & Family Members. While we cannot represent you in court, we can provide you preliminary advice on a wide variety of legal issues & may be able to provide civilian attorney referrals, depending on your situation.

Services:

The Legal Assistance Division provides a wide range of legal services & counseling. This website contains many helpful links for our clients to obtain more information on a wide variety of legal issues. Please keep in mind that while these links may provide general information on a legal topic, they should not serve as a substitute for your personal consultation with a legal assistance attorney. More information on the topics listed here may also be found on the JAGCNet website.

Links to commercial sites does not constitute endorsement by the US Army nor does the US Army take responsibility for the content or the handicap accessibility of those sites.

Hours of Operation

The Legal Assistance Office is open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The office will be closed during training holidays, afternoons during payday activities and on all federal holidays. Clients may sign in for a walk-in appointment beginning at 9 a.m. on Mondays or Thursdays. Wills are done by appointment only. Bring in all relevant paperwork for your case. Walk-in slots are limited and are on a first-come, first-serve basis. There is no guarantee our attorneys will be able to accommodate seeing all potential walk-in clients. You may also seek assistance from other Legal Assistance offices in the nearby areas such as Peterson Air Force Base. Notaries and Powers of Attorney are available on a walk-in basis during normal business hours. If you are seeking an appointment, call 719-526-5572 or 719-526-5573 on the last duty day of the week.

JAGNET

Our History

The Judge Advocate General's Corps is a single organization made up of lawyers, legal administrators & specialists & court reporters. The Corps' members are commissioned & warrant officers, enlisted Soldiers & civilians & are members of the Active Component, Army Reserve & National Guard. They are also members of two honorable professions: the profession of arms & the profession of law.

Like every Army organization, the primary mission of the Corps is to support the war fighter through a variety of activities.

Judge advocates assist commanders with Operational Law, Civil Law & Military Justice. Army lawyers provide legal services to soldiers and their families, boosting morale and allowing soldiers to stay focused on their mission. Most importantly, The Judge Advocate General's Corps provides the structure & support for maintaining discipline, the foundation of an effective fighting force.

SJA Insignia

Branch Insignia

Today, the insignia worn by all uniformed members of the Corps reflects the many components of the Corps' mission: the pen denotes the recording of testimony; the sword, the military character of the Corps' mission; and the wreath, the traditional symbol of accomplishment.

SJA Regimental Insignia

Regimental Insignia

The Argent, an escutcheon Azure (dark blue) charged with a wreath of laurel surmounted by a sword point to base in bend surmounted by a quill in bend sinister all gold. Attached below the shield is a dark blue scroll doubled & inscribed wit the numberals "1775" in silver. The regimental insigna for the Judge Advocate General's Corps was approved August 22, 1986.

SJA Branch Plaque

Branch Plaque

The plaque design has the branch insiginia, letters & rim in gold.

Origins in the American Revolution

In 1775, only a few days after assuming duties as commander-in-chief of the new army, GEN George Washington insisted that the Continental Congress appoint a lawyer to help with the many courts-martial being conducted. Congress acceded, and a "judge advocate," William Tudor, joined Washington's staff. This appointment of Tudor heralded the birth of a corps of lawyers and legal specialists that is today known as The Judge Advocate General's Corps. By 1776, this Army lawyer, known as the "Judge Advocate General," was personally conducting trials before courts-martial and other military tribunals. He acted not only as prosecutor, but also as legal adviser to the court and as "friend" of the accused.

While GEN Washington wanted a judge advocate to oversee the administration of military justice, his concerns also reflected the larger debate about justice and legal authority that was fueling the American Revolution. The new Nation envisioned by the Founding Fathers was a bold social and political experiment: the 'Rule of Law' would replace the 'Divine Right of Kings.' This Rule of Law was grounded in respect: government would respect individual rights and freedoms, and in return, individuals would respect the government's obligation to regulate and enforce standards of behavior. It is the Rule of Law, in both civilian life and in the military, that ensures Order, Justice, and Equality. In any event, since the Revolution, the American Army has had its own lawyers - who assist commanders in enforcing Army standards and reinforcing Army Values: Loyalty, Duty, Respect,Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity & Personal Courage. Soldiers thrive when they know that they will be treated equally & that rules & regulations apply to all, regardless of rank or assignment. Judge advocates have always played a critical role in ensuring that these standards and values are obeyed.

Early years through Civil War period

Judge advocates served with honor and distinction in the early years of the Republic. In the Civil War era, Army lawyers played prominent roles in two historic legal events at the end of the conflict: The Lincoln Assassination Trials and the Trial of Captain Henry Wirz, commandant of the infamous Andersonville prison camp.

World War I

Historical Photo

MAJ Marion W. Howze
At the beginning of World War I, the Judge Advocate General had a "Department" of 17 military lawyers. By December 1918, however, his department had expanded---along with the rest of the American Army---to 426 judge advocates. In any event, the increasing numbers of judge advocates also allowed the role of the Corps to expand;commanders turned to judge advocates for advice in both legal & non-legal matters. Thus, for example, MG Enoch H. Crowder, who had served as the Judge Advocate General since 1911, was appointed Provost Marshal during World War I. While serving in this non-judge advocate assignment, Crowder prepared the Selective Service Act of 1917 & supervised the registration, classification & induction of nearly three million men in the armed services. In the meantime, rather fierce-looking officers like MAJ Marion W. Howze, performed more traditional legal work in the Judge Advocate General's Department. Howze, a 1903 graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point, was a judge advocate in France with the American Expeditionary Force (AEF).

Historical Photo

MG Blanton Winship
And then, of course, there were always judge advocates who could 'do it all'---like COL Blanton Winship. Winship, a Georgia native and graduate of Mercer University's law school, commanded two infantry regiments while also serving as Judge Advocate of the First Army. He was more than equal to the challenge, for his extraordinary heroism and gallantry in combat earned him the Distinguished Service Cross and Silver Star. COL Winship went on to become The Judge Advocate General in 1931, and the Signal Center and Fort Gordon Staff Judge Advocate's office is named "Winship Hall" in his honor.

Historical Photo

LTC Edward S. Thurston
After the war ended in France, judge advocates continued serving areas where fighting continued. Thus, for example, LTC Edward S. Thurston deployed with U.S. troops to Murmansk, in northern Russia in 1919. As the only lawyer in the AEF-North Russia, LTC Thurston was responsible for the administration of military justice, and he reviewed more than 250 courts-martial cases between August 1918 and April 1919.

Historical Photo

MAJ Albert J. Galen
Thousands of miles away, in Vladivostok, Siberia, MAJ Albert J. Galen served as the sole American lawyer in the AEF-Siberia. Like Thurston, he endured months of bitter cold, snow and ice. And, like his colleague in Murmansk, MAJ Galen also faced a variety of legal issues. Galen, for example, researched the legal ramifications of a marriage between an American soldier and a Russian citizen. Was a marriage performed by a Russian Orthodox priest 'legal' under U.S. law? Should an Army chaplain instead perform it? Could the new wife return with her soldier husband to the U.S.?

Some issues were more somber...

Historical PhotoThe 'Red' or Bolshevik forces battled constantly with the 'White' or non-communist forces, and the American soldiers were often caught in the middle. Moreover, neither the 'Reds' or 'Whites' had much interest in the observing the customary laws of land warfare; prisoners of war were not ordinarily taken. The Americans, however, accepted the surrender of combatants, and MAJ Galen served as the command's representative on the "Allied Commission of Prisoners of War." No doubt Galen observed that Bolsheviks falling into American hands fared better than those who did not. In this photograph, for example, Czech soldiers allied with the 'White' forces have just captured this group of Bolsheviks. They were executed a short time later. In 1940, the Army was once again preparing for war. The legal challenges presented by this buildup were staggering, and now Army lawyers were making policy recommendations as well as providing legal advice and opinions. When the threat of war became reality, judge advocates would once again be tested on the battlefield as well as in the courtroom.

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Historical Photo

COL Thomas H. Green
After the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, the operational tempo increased markedly for judge advocates. Some were immediately called upon to handle missions of incredible importance and sensitivity. In Hawaii, for example, COL Thomas H. Green, who had been serving as Staff Judge Advocate for the Hawaiian Department, assumed duties as the executive to the military governor. In that position, Green was largely responsible for promulgating and issuing orders and other measures implementing the transition from civil government to military government on December 7, 1941. In most cases, these orders were without precedent and required the broadest legal knowledge in order to make them properly effective. As a practical matter, COL Green was largely responsible for the day-to-day operation of the military government in the Territory of Hawaii.

Historical Photo

1LT Samuel Spitzer
While Spitzer received the Silver Star as a judge advocate, others who would later serve in the Corps were being recognized for their personal courage. Thus, for example, then infantry 1LT Hubert E. Miller (pictured here as the Staff Judge Advocate, 1st Logistical Command, Vietnam, in 1966) received the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism in Normandy in 1944. A superb athlete, Miller later participated in the 1952 Olympic Games (four-man bobsled), becoming the only judge advocate to compete in the Games while a member of the Corps.

Historical Photo

COL Hubert E. Miller
While Spitzer received the Silver Star as a judge advocate, others who would later serve in the Corps were being recognized for their personal courage. Thus, for example, then infantry 1LT Hubert E. Miller (pictured here as the Staff Judge Advocate, 1st Logistical Command, Vietnam, in 1966) received the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism in Normandy in 1944. A superb athlete, Miller later participated in the 1952 Olympic Games (four-man bobsled), becoming the only judge advocate to compete in the Games while a member of the Corps.

Historical Photo

MG Myron C. Cramer
But World War II was not just about "judge advocates in combat." Recognizing that they would enhance mission success if the Corp assisted soldiers with their personal legal problems, the Corps' leaders established a formal "Legal Assistance Plan." In this photograph, taken at the Army-Navy Country Club in March 1944, MG Myron C. Cramer, TJAG, and other dignitaries, celebrate the 1st anniversary of the Army legal assistance program. The end of World War II thrust Army lawyers into a new area. Judge advocates assisted with the prosecution of Nazi Party leaders for "Crimes Against Humanity" at the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, Germany. Trials also were conducted in Tokyo, where Japanese war criminals were prosecuted. Less publicized were the trials of the rank and file military personnel who had actually committed or ordered war crimes. The Judge Advocate General's Department supervised these trials, and judge advocates participated in many of them as prosecutors. In many of these trials, Army lawyers also served as defense counsel to ensure that German and Japanese defendants received adequate legal representation.

Courts-martial from Chaos

Historical PhotoFinally, there were courts-martial arising out of the chaos of war that had nothing to do with war crimes. In 1946, for example, COL Jack Durant and his wife, CPT Kathleen Nash, were court-martialed for stealing jewels belong to the House of Hesse. These "crown" jewels, worth millions of dollars, had been discovered the year previously by CPT Nash in Schloss Friederishoff. The Hesse family had hidden the jewels in this schloss, their family's castle, for safekeeping. After Nash discovered the hiding place, however, she, Durant, and another officer smuggled the jewels to the United States. At trial, all three accused claimed that, as looting was commonplace in Occupied Germany, their misconduct should be excused. The court members were unconvinced. Durant, shown in this photograph with his two defense lawyers, received 15 years in jail. Nash received five years. Much of the Hesse treasure was never found---and remains unrecovered.

Creation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice

Historical PhotoAn immediate effect of a unified Department of Defense (DoD) in 1947 was the need for a unified criminal code that would govern all military personnel. As a result, the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) was drafted in 1949, approved in 1950, and took effect on May 31, 1951 in the midst of the Korean War. The UCMJ was the most comprehensive change in military law in America's history, providing the individual soldier with needed legal safeguards and establishing a system of judicial review comparable to that enjoyed by civilians. Key provisions included the new right for an enlisted accused to have at least 1/3 enlisted Soldiers on the court-martial panel; prior to the enactment of the UCMJ, all courts-martial were heard by juries of officers. This photograph shows the first all enlisted court-martial, convened in France in July 1953.

Korean War

Historical PhotoThe new UCMJ came into effect while the fighting in Korea was already underway. Judge advocates quickly mastered the new system, aided by their legal specialists. It was during this period the legal specialist series MOS was created, defining the duties and training of enlisted legal clerks. This was part of a continuing effort to establish a formal program of instruction and training for Corps personnel that began in World War II. Pictured to the left is MG E.M. Brannon(center)..

During the Korean War, judge advocates served with distinction. In this photograph, MG E. M. Brannon, TJAG, confers with BG Phillip D. Ginder, CG, 45th Infantry Division, in 1953. COL Claude Reitsel, Jr., SJA, US Eighth Army, looks on.

Historical Photo

LTC Howard S. Levie
As the fighting in Korea ended, however, judge advocates continued to demonstrate their value. For example, COL Howard S. Levie (shown here as a LTC), an expert in international law, was the key draftsman of the 1953 Korean Armistice Agreement.

Central to JAG Corps instruction and training was The Judge Advocate General's School (TJAGSA), which opened at the University of Michigan law school in September 1942. In the photograph below, students of an early "JAG School" class pose for a photograph.

Historical Photo

5th OCS Class at Ann Arbor
Transforming raw civilians into military attorneys with good soldier skills required innovative approaches. Consequently, the Corps ran its own Officer Candidate School (OCS) from 1943 to 1945. In the first photograph, students in the fifth OCS class take their class photograph in early 1944. In the second photograph, students of the 10th Officer Candidate class, on the school 'parade ground' at the Univ. of Michigan, take their oaths as officers in March 1945.

Historical Photo

10th OCS Class at Ann Arbor
At the end of the war, the school was deactivated, but the need for a permanent training facility was obvious & in 1950, TJAGSA reopened its doors on Fort Myer, Va. The photograph to the left shows the members of the first class at Ft. Myer.

Historical Photo

1st TJAGSA Class at Ft Myer
TJAGSA's location in the Washington, D.C. area, however, was short-lived; in 1951 the school re-located to the grounds of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Today, TJAGSA continues to be the only American Bar Association accredited law school in the country that focuses exclusively on military law, and teaches judge advocates and civilian attorneys from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, as well as other agencies outside of the Defense Department.

Legal specialists receive their basic instruction at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Because of the high standards required for legal work, enlisted personnel in the Corps often are very mature and well-educated. As their careers progress, legal specialists must also receive advanced training at Charlottesville.

The Corps' warrant officer legal administrators, who are selected from the ranks of the Corps' legal specialists, receive their basic training at TJAGSA in Charlottesville. Again, as they progress in their careers, they receive advanced training at TJAGSA.

One distinguished judge advocate who did much for TJAGSA was COL William S. Fulton, who served as commandant in the 1970s. After retiring from active duty, Fulton continued serving the Corps as the Clerk of Court, U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals, until he finally retired from Federal service in 1998.

Historical Photo

COL William S. Fulton
The complex nature of guerrilla war spawned a host of complicated legal issues. Just as type of war waged by the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong demanded non-traditional responses from the American Army, some judge advocates also realized that the traditional way of providing legal services was no longer way enough. Consequently, a number of judge advocates spearheaded unique efforts to enhance mission success in ways not seen previously. For example, LTC George E. Eblen (pictured here with South Vietnamese Army Chief of Staff LTG Le Van Ty, in 1962) decided that he should begin monitoring war crimes committed by the Viet Cong against Americans.

Historical Photo

LTC George E. Eblen (left)
Eblen's decision to tape record all interviews of U.S. personnel claiming mistreatment resulted in a command policy that a military lawyer participate in all future debriefings involving war crimes.

Historical Photo

COL George S. Prugh (pictured here as TJAG)
Likewise initiated a number of non-traditional initiatives.

While serving as the Staff Judge Advocate at Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, from 1964 to 1966, Prugh created a U.S.-Vietnamese Law Society and arranged for Vietnamese lawyers to study in the United States. He also established a legal advisory program that monitored real-world operations of South Vietnam's criminal justice system. Of particular significance, however, was COL Prugh's successful effort in persuading the South Vietnamese military that its conflict with the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese was no longer an internal civil disorder. This was a significant achievement for, once its military leaders accepted the international nature of the conflict, the South Vietnamese government also acceded to this view---and agreed that the provisions of the Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War would be applied.

Historical Photo

MG George S. Prugh
As always, judge advocates acquitted themselves with honor and courage on the battlefield. Here, judge advocates assigned to the 25th Infantry Division "Tropic Lightning" pose for a photograph in 1970.

Conducting a court-martial in a combat zone could be dangerous, but that was Standard Operating Procedure in Vietnam. In this photograph, taken in Vietnam shortly after the enactment of the Military Justice Act of 1968, a trial counsel swears in a witness at a special court-martial.

Historical PhotoJudge advocate CPT Ken Gray was awarded a Bronze Star medal for meritorious service in Vietnam. At about the same time, infantry 1LT Mike Nardotti received a Silver Star for gallantry. Twenty-five years later, they would serve together on the same team with Mike Nardotti as The Judge Advocate General and Ken Gray as The Assistant Judge Advocate General. Gray was also the Corps' first black general officer.

Post-Vietnam Era & the Birth of Operational Law

Historical Photo

MG Ken Gray
The Army's experience in Vietnam planted the seeds for an end to the almost exclusive focus of judge advocates on military justice---and peacetime legal issues. The murders at My Lai, and the investigations and courts-martial that followed, all culminated in a 1974 Department of Defense Directive tasking Army judge advocates with a new mission: ensuring that all U.S. military operations complied strictly with the Law of War. Accomplishing this new responsibility now required Army lawyers regularly to immerse themselves in many aspects of operational planning and execution---and thus assume a role that earlier judge advocates did not see as part of their duties.

A number of perceptive judge advocates realized that this new legal mission inexorably meant judge advocate integration into operations at all levels, and they initiated efforts to move the Corps toward this end. The real catalyst for change, however, occurred in late 1983, when American forces launched Operation URGENT FURY. The operation in Grenada was a wake-up call for judge advocates, and the Corps' leadership now formally recognized that a contingency-oriented Army did require, in fact, judge advocates adept at handling more than traditional peacetime legal missions. It was essential that Army lawyers now be schooled in a new role and a new legal discipline: operational law---a compendium of domestic, foreign and international law applicable to U.S. forces engaged in military operations at home and abroad.

Over the next fifteen years, the JAG Corps reconfigured its assets and training to support this new judge advocate role. By 1989, when U.S. forces began deploying to Southwest Asia as part of Operation DESERT SHIELD, the JAG Corps was ready.

Army lawyers and legal specialists worked around the clock to solve the legal problems created by the rapid deployment to Saudi Arabia. Commanders at all levels now saw their judge advocates as important force-multipliers. They were first class attorneys who prosecuted and defended courts-martial, adjudicated claims, and advised individual soldiers on a variety of personal legal problems. But, their new role meant that these same lawyers also contributed to mission success in countless other ways---from drafting Rules of Engagement and providing advice on targeting, using combat contracting to purchase special fabric for force protection, and assisting Division (G-2) intelligence personnel in gathering war crimes evidence, to constructing bunkers and fighting positions, investigating friendly fire incidents, and drafting war trophy policies.

Historical PhotoA critical player in legal decision making at the highest level was COL Raymond C. Ruppert, the Staff Judge Advocate, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM). In this photograph, taken at Safwan, Iraq in March 1991, Ruppert stands next to his boss, GEN H. Norman Scharzkopf, the Commander-in-Chief, CENTCOM.

Historical PhotoWith the commencement of DESERT STORM, Army lawyers moved to the front with their commanders. This photograph shows the three corps-level staff judge advocates of DESERT STORM. From left to right are COL John Bozeman, XVIII Airborne Corps, COL Walt Huffman, VII Corps, and COL Bill Hagan, 22d Support Command. All three looked for new ways for lawyers to enhance mission success.

Historical PhotoIt is no longer unusual, for example, for Army lawyers to work along side judge advocates from other nations. Thus, while serving as the U.N. Mission in Haiti Force (UNMIH) Legal Advisor, MAJ Mark S. Ackerman, was assisted by Canadian judge advocate MAJ Marc B. Philippe. In this photograph, taken in Port-au-Prince in 1995, Ackerman (left) & Philippe(right) advise COL Khatak, Commander, Pakistan Contingent, UNMIH Military Force.

The digital battlefield & the increased 'optempo' of both combat missions and Operations Other Than War will increase & intensify these challenges. Commanders will require Soldiers who can recognize issues & provide solutions quickly.

The JAG Corps is preparing its men & women to meet these challenges.

To aid them is the new Corps doctrine, enunciated in FM 27-100, Legal Support to Operations. At long last, men & women in the Corps have clear guidance on the role of the Army lawyer a& how legal support to military operations is provided through operational law & the "Six Core Legal Disciplines" of administrative law, civil law, claims, international law, legal assistance & military justice. This doctrinal foundation for legal operations will allow judge advocates to better serve the Army and while the metamorphosis of the JAG Corps from an organization of special staff officers to today's emphasis on judge advocate integration into operations will continue, the Corps is ready for new challenges in the new millennium.

Website Information: This web page is for informational purposes only & is not meant to constitute legal advice. The information contained on these pages is general & the law may apply differently in specific situations.

Information Papers

Click the links below to view Information Papers prepared by the Legal Assistance Division on indicated topics.

Family Law

Estate Planning Questionaire

Guardianship Issues

Real Property

Economics

Bankruptcy

Military Issues

Real Property

Contract Issues

Income Tax

Administrative Law Section

Administrative Law

Click the links below to view the Information paper on the subject indicated.

Claims

The Fort Carson Claims Office is a consolidated office staffed by friendly and competent civilian employees. We are committed to fully and fairly investigating and resolving claims filed against and on behalf of the United States. The Claims Office may be reached by telephone at 719-526-1355 or by mail at:

Department of the Army
Office of the Staff Judge Advocate
ATTN: Claims
1633 Mekong Street, Building 6222
Fort Carson, CO 80913-4143

Personnel Claims and UCMJ Article 139 Claims

Personnel Claims Act (PCA) claims must now be filed with the United States Army Center for Personnel Claims Support (CPCS) at Fort Knox, Kentucky. PCA claims are generally filed for household goods shipment loss or damage, POV shipment loss or damage, on-post theft or vandalism, and for damages caused by unusual occurrences such as fire, hail, or extremely high winds. The CPCS may be contacted by telephone at 502-626-3000. PCA claims must be filed online at http://www.JAGCNet.army.mil/Pclaims. The Fort Carson Claims Office will provide general guidance on PCA claims. The Claims Office may also provide assistance to claimants who have open or pending DPS claims.

The Claims Office also provides assistance with filing UCMJ Article 139 Claims.

For assistance with PCA or UCMJ Article 139 Claims, please call 719-526-1346 or DSN 691-1346.

Claim Services Include:

Tort Claims

The Claims Office receives, investigates and resolves claims filed against the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act (28 U.S.C. Sections 2671-2680), the Military Claims Act (10 U.S.C. Section 2733), and various other statutes.

The Claims Office is responsible for handling claims arising within its geographic jurisdiction of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. For further information or assistance, please contact the Claims Office by telephone at 719-526-1342 or DSN 691-1342.

Tort links:

Affirmative Claims

The Claims Office asserts claims in accordance with the Federal Medical Care Recovery Act (FMCRA) in order to recover the cost of medical care provided by Military Treatment Facilities (MTFs) and TRICARE. Pursuant to the FMCRA, the United States may recover its medical care costs when beneficiaries who receive medical care at an MTF or through TRICARE are injured by an at-fault third party. Affirmative claims are often asserted for cases involving automobile accidents, assaults, dog bites, workers’ compensation, slips and falls, and civilian medical malpractice. In many instances, the Claims Office may recover lost wages for Soldiers who are on convalescent leave. The Claims Office also asserts claims for loss or damage to U.S. Government property caused by at-fault third parties.

If you or your dependents received medical care at government expense after being injured by the negligence of a third party, received medical care at Government expense, or you are aware of damage to government property, please notify the Claims Office at 719-526-2462.

More Information

Legal Assistance

Mission

The Fort Carson Office of the Staff Judge Advocate Legal Assistance Office provides world class legal advice and service to America's past, present and future warriors and their dependents.

Hours of Operation

The Legal Assistance Office is open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The office will be closed during training holidays, afternoons during payday activities and on all federal holidays. Clients may sign in for a walk-in appointment beginning at 9 a.m. on Mondays or Thursdays. Wills are done by appointment only. Bring in all relevant paperwork for your case. Walk-in slots are limited and are on a first-come, first-serve basis. There is no guarantee our attorneys will be able to accommodate seeing all potential walk-in clients. You may also seek assistance from other Legal Assistance offices in the nearby areas such as Peterson Air Force Base. Notaries and Powers of Attorney are available on a walk-in basis during normal business hours. If you are seeking an appointment, call 719-526-5572 or 719-526-5573 on the last duty day of the week.

Location

The fastest way to get to our office is through Gate 1 (Main Gate). Keep right before entering the roundabout on Harr Avenue; once on Harr, you will take the third street on the left. This is not a left turn as the road will actually be forking; the left branch which you need to take will be Prussman Boulevard. You will arrive at a three-way stop sign with a flashing red light. Go straight and at the next stop sign, turn right onto Mekong Street. Alternately, you will see a green sign that says "Courthouse" along the route, and you can follow the signs to the courthouse and we are located in the building next to the courthouse.

Services

Powers of attorney and notaries are available on a walk-in basis. Other Legal Assistance services include family law (divorce, paternity, support, adoption), estate planning (wills, health care directives, durable powers of attorney), real and personal property (landlord tenant, housing), consumer law (debt collection, garnishment, SCRA), civilian administrative (name changes immigration and naturalization, driving privileges), military administrative (Financial Liability Investigation of Property Loss, OER and NCOER appeals, Memoranda of Reprimand rebuttals, Article 138 complaints, security clearances), torts, and civilian criminal matters.

Per Army Regulation 27-3, the following are types of cases in which legal assistance is either not authorized or only offers limited services: military justice matters, private business activities, civil litigation or claims against the United States, employment matters - except those involving enforcement of USERRA, contingent legal fee cases (limited assistance), prepaid legal representation cases (limited assistance), and standards of conduct issues.

Eligible Clients

Per regulation, the following persons are eligible to receive legal assistance:

  • Active Component members of the Armed Forces and their Family Members.
  • Reserve Component members of the Armed Forces serving on active duty more than 29 days, and their Family Members.
  • Active and Reserve Component members of the Armed Forces who are receiving military retirement or disability pay ("gray" card retired Reserve Component members are not eligible for assistance).
  • Department of Defense civilian employees against whom pecuniary liability has been recommended under AR 735-5.
  • Department of Defense civilian employees who are to deploy to a combat zone, but only for matters related to their imminent deployment.

The Divorce and Separation Video Briefing

The divorce and separation briefing is held every Monday and Wednesday at 9:30 a.m., and Thursday at 2 p.m. Appointments for this video briefing are not necessary. Prior to scheduling an appointment with one of our attorneys for divorce or separation, you must attend this briefing from our office.

MEB Counsel

The Soldier's MEB Counsel Office (SMEBC) is located at Building 1162, Ellis Street on Fort Carson. For MEB/PEB assistance and appointments, please call 719-526-6849.

Special Victim Counsel Program

The Special Victim Counsel (SVC) is a Judge Advocate licensed attorney who represents the interests of sexual assault victims throughout the duration of the Military Justice or administrative process. The SVC works exclusively for the victim, not for the Army or any other person, organization, or entity.

If the victim requests an SVC, the SVC will work with the victim to aid in understanding the legal proceedings or administrative actions in the case and represent the victim at all times during a courts-martial. The SVC can accompany the victim to all interviews with the investigators, the Prosecutor, or Defense Counsel. The SVC can also provide legal assistance services as needed.

For more information, contact your Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC), Victim Advocate or call legal assistance at 719-526-5572 or 719-526-5573.

Fort Carson Tax Center

The Tax Center normally opens for operation in the month of February and closes in June each year. The center is located at building 1358 on Barkeley Avenue and open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Appointments are made by calling the Tax Center at 719-524-1012 or 524-1013. Click here for more information.

Family Law

Information Paper: Support of Dependents UP AR 608-99

Paternity and Adoptions

Estate Planning

Guardianship Issues

Life Insurance

Real Property

Consumer Protection

Vehicles

Credit Problems

Credit Reporting Agencies

Contract Issues

Economics

Military Issues

Income Tax

Military Justice

Services

The Criminal Law Division supervises installation-wide criminal law matters by offering appropriate advice to commanders in determining the disposition of pending or possible disciplinary actions (letters of reprimand to courts-martial) to include administrative separations under AR 635-200 and AR 600-8-24. Additionally, this division conducts educational classes on military justice related topics to include, but not limited to, training of new commanders & unit briefings

Further questions concerning criminal law may be answered by calling our office at: 719.526.0611 Fax: 719.526.0602

Helpful Links:

Victim Witness Assistance Program:

The Victim Witness Assistance Program (VWAP) provides information to victims & potential witnesses in a criminal matter, which may be resolved in the military justice system. The Victim Witness Assistance Program will be here to explain court procedures to you & answer any questions that you may have regarding your case. Contact 719. 526.1383 for more information on the Victim Witness Assistance Program.

Definition of a Witness:

A person who has information or evidence about a crime & provides that knowledge to a DoD component about an offense within the component's investigative jurisdiction. When the witness is a minor, this term includes a family member or legal guardian. The term "witness" does not include a defense witness or any individual involved in the crime as a perpetrator of accomplice.

Definition of a Victim:

A person who has suffered direct physical, emotional, or pecuniary harm as a result of the commission of a crime committed in violation of the UCMJ, or in violation of the law of another jurisdiction if any portion of the investigation is conducted primarily by the DoD components.

As a victim or a witness of a crime, you automatically become involved in a system that can sometimes be intimidating & confusing.

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The Trial Defense Service

(TDS) provides conflict-free legal services to Soldiers who are facing adverse criminal or administrative actions at no cost to the Soldier. Unlike public defenders in civilian jurisdictions, there is no means test required to determine eligibility; all Soldiers are entitled to TDS representation by virtue of being subject to the UCMJ

The Fort Carson Field Office is a subordinate operating element of the Great Plains Region of the U.S. Army Trial Defense Service (USATDS), U.S. Army Legal Services Agency (USALSA), Fort Belvoir, VA, a field operating agency of The Judge Advocate General (T JAG). All USATDS counsel are assigned to USALSA with duty at Fort Carson, Colorado. Counsel have an independent rating chain through USATDS. The mission of the Fort Carson Field Office is to provide specified defense counsel services for Army personnel assigned to Fort Carson and those Soldiers within the geographical area of responsibility of this field office.

Informational Papers

Article 15's
Administrative Separations
Courts-martial

Services

TDS provides conflict-free legal services to Soldiers who are facing adverse criminal or administrative actions at no cost to the Soldier. Unlike public defenders in civilian jurisdictions, there is no means test required to determine eligibility; all Soldiers are entitled to TDS representation by virtue of being subject to the UCMJ. Article 15 & Chapter Elimination clients are seen on a walk-in basis on Tuesdays & Thursdays, with Article 15's starting at 0900 and Chapter Eliminations starting at 1300. Please call 719.526.4563 for information.

The various categories of representation fall into three priorities.

  • Priority 1: Criminal representation at trials by court-martial is the top priority of TDS and takes precedence over all other actions. TDS counsel make motions, the panel, offer evidence, examine and witnesses, present argument, and negotiate on their client's behalf.
  • Priority 2: Assistance with administrative separations (actions to discharge soldiers prior to the end of their service), nonjudicial punishment, and summary courts-martial.
  • Priority 3: All other actions, including advising soldiers of their rights as a suspect and responding to letters of reprimand. Priority 3 actions may also be handled by legal assistance attorneys, depending on the availability of TDS.

Requirements

Information packets: It is required that you bring the respective information packet to your scheduled appointment.

Courts-Martial: Courts Martial Packet, including the Preferred Charge Sheet.

Article 15: Article 15 Packet (DA Form 2627) & all supporting documentation.

Administrative Elimination Counseling: Article 15 packet (DA Form 2627) and all supporting documentation.

Article 31 Rights: Soldiers suspected of offenses should be counseled on their right against self-incrimination. Article 31 rights subject advice counseling will be conducted five days a week.

Escorts: All Soldiers should have an escort of a rank higher than the Soldier being counseled. The purpose of the escort is to safe guard the packets and to ensure the proper conduct of the Soldier during the counseling period. Escorts should not drop off their Soldiers & leave them without transportation.

It is not the responsibility of the Senior Defense Counsel, Trial Defense Counsel, or TDS office personnel to maintain watch or accountability of ANY Soldier requiring our services. After the briefing, the escorts will be responsible for the Soldier & their packets

Arrive on time: Soldiers arriving after the Article 15 briefing has started or without the proper documentation will be told to return to their units & to return on the next scheduled counseling date. The Senior Defense Counsel or the NCOIC of TDS must approve exceptions to the scheduled time.

About Us

The United States Army Trial Defense Service (USATDS or TDS) is an independent unit within the Judge Advocate General's Corps, U.S. Army, and is part of the US Army Legal Services Agency (USALSA). The TDS motto is "Defending Those Who Defend America."

The Trial Defense Service headquarters is located in Arlington, Virginia, and is headed by a judge advocate Colonel. TDS headquarters consists of the Chief of TDS, the Deputy Chief, Legal Administrator Warrant Officer, and a number of supporting attorneys, paralegals, and administrative support staff. Under the Chief of TDS, there are nine active duty Regional Defense Counsels (RDC), each responsible for overseeing defense services within their own geographic region (see below). Each RDC oversees several Senior Defense Counsels (SDC), who are in charge of field offices & are responsible for providing defense services for a specific post, command, or area. Some field offices oversee geographically separated branch offices.

Our Mission

The Trial Defense Service provides conflict-free legal services to soldiers who are facing adverse criminal or administrative actions at no cost to the soldier. Unlike public defenders in civilian jurisdictions, there is no means test required to determine eligibility; all soldiers are entitled to TDS representation by virtue of being subject to the UCMJ. The various categories of representation fall into three priorities.

  • Priority 1: Criminal representation at trials by court-martial is the top priority of TDS and takes precedence over all other actions. TDS counsel make motions, voir dire the panel, offer vidence, examine and cross-examine witnesses, present argument, and negotiate on their client's behalf.
  • Priority 2: Assistance with administrative separations (actions to discharge soldiers prior to the end of their service), nonjudicial punishment, and summary courts-martial.
  • Priority 3: All other actions, including advising soldiers of their rights as a suspect and responding to letters of reprimand. Priority 3 actions may also be handled by legal assistance attorneys, depending on the availability of TDS.

History

In the Army military justice system, the main decisionmaker is the general court-martial convening authority (GCMCA), usually a division, post, or area commander. Each GCMCA has a Staff Judge Advocate, who serves as the legal advisor to the general. The Staff Judge Advocate also supervises a number of subordinate attorneys assigned to his or her particular unit. Collectively, the attorneys assigned to a particular command are called the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate.

Prior to the late 1970s, the duty of defense counsel was just another assignment within the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, much like the trial counsel (military prosecutor). To some, this created the appearance of a conflict of interest when two opposing counsel worked within the same office. To others, especially some soldier clients, the fact that their defense counsel wore the same unit patch as the prosecuting attorney and worked in the same building created the impression that their attorney was on the general's side and not theirs.

Between 1978 and 1980, the Army Chief of Staff approved an experimental program to determine whether it would be feasible to create a separate command solely for Army defense counsel. The pilot program was deemed a success, and in December 1980, the Trial Defense Service was born.

Because of the limited number of TDS attorneys (even the Army's largest installation, Fort Hood, Texas, only has around 10 TDS attorneys), the TDS organization was originally not large enough to have its own unit patch (Shoulder Sleeve Insignia). For 25 years, the TDS "unit patch" was the Department of the Army Staff Support patch, also worn by members of the US Army Safety Center and the Defense Commissary Agency. However, in August 2006, a distinctive unit patch for TDS was approved for wear. From the Institute of Heraldry's description: "The shield-shaped patch reflects the nature of legal defense work. The sword supporting scales of justice represents the unit's mission to defend soldiers at courts-martial and separations boards; seeking justice for all soldiers. The sword also signifies that Trial Defense Service personnel are soldiers as well as lawyers. The glory, mullet, and the red border are adapted from the Department of the Army Staff Support patch previously authorized for wear by the Trial Defense Service, and provides a historical link to its organizational heritage."

Contact Us

The Fort Carson Trial Defense Service (TDS) Field Office is located at Building 2354. Our Hours of operation are Monday-Friday 9am-5:00pm.

Mailing Address:
Department of the Army Trial Defense Service
6934 Smith Street, Bldg. 2354, Box 90
Fort Carson, CO 80906

Courts-Martial

A court-martial is military court. These military courts can determine punishments for members of the military subject to military law who are found guilty or may dismiss the charges based on the evidence and the case presented. In addition, courts-martial may be used to try prisoners of war for war crimes. The Geneva Convention requires that who are on trial for war crimes be subject to the same procedures as would be the holding’s own Soldiers. Additionally, most navies have a standard court-martial which convenes whenever a ship is lost; this does not necessarily mean that the captain is suspected of wrongdoing, but merely that the circumstances surrounding the loss of the ship would be made part of the official record. Many ship captains will actually insist on a court-martial in such circumstances.

The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) defines military offenses and trial procedures for courts-martial. As in all United States criminal courts, courts-martial are adversarial proceedings. Military lawyers of the Judge Advocate General's Corps (JAG) representing the government and appointed military lawyers representing the accused present and argue relevant facts, legal aspects, and theories before a military judge. The accused can also hire civilian representation at their own expense

The lawyers must follow military rules of procedure and evidence as allowed by the presiding judge. During these trial proceedings, the military judge decides questions of law. In non-capital cases, the accused may request to be tried by the military judge alone or by a jury, however, discretion in granting such request lies with the military judge. A court-martial jury is called a panel of members. This panel decides questions of fact as allowed by law, unless the accused chooses to be tried by judge alone, in which case the judge will resolve questions of law and questions of fact. Both the court-martial members and the military judge are members of the armed forces. Members of a court-martial are commissioned officers, unless the accused is a warrant officer or enlisted member and requests that the membership reflect their position by including warrant or enlisted members. Only a court-martial can determine innocence or guilt.

Make up of a court-martial

A panel of officers sit in judgment at a court-martial, while the accused person is usually represented by an officer who may be a military lawyer.

Crimes punishable by a court-martial

Courts-martial have the authority to try a wide range of military offences, many of which closely resemble civilian crimes like fraud, theft or perjury. Others, like cowardice, desertion, and insubordination are purely military crimes. Punishments for military offences ranged from fines and imprisonment to execution. Military offences are defined in the Army Act, Royal Air Force Act and Royal Navy Act for members of the British Military. Regulations for the Canadian Forces are found in the Queen's Regulations and Orders. For members of the United States they are covered under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). These offences, their corresponding punishments and instructions on how to run a court-martial, are explained in detail based on each country and/or service.

Levels of courts-martial

Three levels of courts-martial can be convened depending on the severity of the offense(s): Summary (which can confine junior enlisted to up to 30 days), Special (which, depending on the charges, can confine an accused up to a year and give a bad-conduct discharge to enlisted) and General (which, depending on the charges, can sentence an accused to death or life imprisonment, and give a bad-conduct or dishonorable discharge or a dismissal to officers). Officers are not tried at summary courts-martial and enlisted members have an absolute right to refuse summary court.

Unlike federal courts established under Article III of the U.S. Constitution, a court-martial is established under Article I and does not exist until its creation is ordered by a commanding officer. Such officers are called court-martial convening authorities. The legally operative document that a convening authority uses to create a court-martial is called a court-martial convening order.

General courts-martial require an investigating officer, with at least the rank of captain (naval lieutenant),or other officer with legal training, to hold a hearing to review government evidence which outlines the elements of the alleged crime. These investigations are referred to as Article 32 hearings because they are described in article 32 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). In the Air Force and Navy the Investigating Officer is usually a JAG officer, in the Army it is usually a non-lawyer. The accused is present and has an attorney to examine evidence and testimony. The Article 32 hearing is a major discovery tool for the defense. The investigating officer then sends the report with recommendations to the convening authority, who may then refer the case for court-martial.

Convening authorities may decide on actions other than court-martial, especially when the government case is weak. The charges may be dismissed or disposed of at a lower level, and include actions such as administrative reprimands, summary courts-martial, non-judicial punishment, or administrative separation.

Courts-martial have universal jurisdiction over active duty military personnel, subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. This means that no matter where a service member is in the world, if they are on active duty, they can be tried by a court-martial. Under new laws to deal with contractors operating abroad with the armed forces, some civilians are also subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

If a service member is court-martialed and they feel that the result was unjust, then the service member can submit their case to the convening authority, which is the officer (usually a general) that originally had the service member court-martialed. This is similar to asking a civilian governor for clemency or a pardon. After clemency requests the service member may submit their case for review to the Court of Criminal Appeal for their branch. See Army Court of Criminal Appeals, Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeal, Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals, Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals.

Cases can be further appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces and the Supreme Court of the United States.

As the final last resort, the convicted service member can ask for executive clemency also known as a 'reprieve', or a pardon from the President.