Peterson’s Area Defense Counsel works for you

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- All members of the Armed Forces take an oath to protect and defend the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

Peterson's Area Defense Counsel works to protect the basic rights the Constitution provides, ensuring an independent and aggressive representation of Air Force members facing punitive and other adverse actions.

The ADC judge advocates are active duty attorneys and paralegals, but unlike the legal office, they do not work for the command.

The ADC was established in 1976 to provide defense services independent from the base legal office, diminishing the conflict of interest when representing an Air Force client against the Air Force.

At Peterson, the ADC office consists of an ADC, Capt. Andre Pennington, and a defense paralegal, Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Hunt. Like all ADCs, Captain Pennington is a law school graduate licensed to practice law in one or more of the 50 states, certified by the Air Force as a trial defense attorney, and is a designated judge advocate.

Two of the most important characteristics of an ADC are that it offers confidentiality and independent legal advice.

"When you visit the ADC office, the information you share with the defense paralegal and ADC is absolutely confidential," said Captain Pennington. "Unless you authorize disclosure, the information remains confidential. The chaplain is the only other resource who can claim this type of confidentiality."

In 1983, Maj. Gen. Thomas Bruton, then Judge Advocate General of the Air Force, said "It is not the job of the defense counsel to assist or make it easy for the government to establish or present its case. To the contrary, the independent defense structure pioneered by the Air Force was in part established to enable defense counsel to freely make those many difficult and sometimes challenging decisions without fear of command interference or reprisal," he said.

To provide independent and unbiased legal advice, the Peterson ADC is a tenant unit with its chain of command located at Bolling AFB in Washington, D.C.

"We do not take our orders from the wing, group or squadron commanders here," Captain Pennington said. "Our client is our only concern and we have only our clients' best interests in mind when making any decision."

The Peterson ADC serves active duty members in actions falling under the UCMJ with courts-martial and nonjudicial punishment.

"We also represent clients in a variety of other actions, including administrative discharges, referral performance reports, and letters of reprimand," he said. "Keep in mind that we can assist while the command is still investigating, before any action is taken against you."

Know Your Rights
Under military law, an Air Force member suspected of committing a criminal offense has the right to remain silent and to consult with a military lawyer free of charge prior to making any statement. Additionally, any statement that is made, whether oral or written, may be used against the member in a court-martial, Article 15, nonjudicial punishment action, or administrative action. The fact that a member exercises either the right to remain silent or the right to consult with an attorney cannot be held against them by Air Force authorities.

For more information call 556-7611 or DSN 834-7611.