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.

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Use the following links for more information:

Administrative Law

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

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 719-524-1071 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 1042. Our hours of operation are Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Mailing Address:
Department of the Army Trial Defense Service
1853 O'Connell Blvd., Bldg. 1042
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.