Area Defense Counsel stands for Airmen
By Senior Airman Ashley Maldonado, 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 16, 2018
SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Standing at attention while receiving paperwork from a supervisor is a scenario some Airmen may be familiar with, but with help from the Area Defense Counsel office, Airmen have a chance to stand up for themselves with someone to support them.
The ADC office is a geographically separated unit that falls under the Air Force Legal Operations Agency, which means the Shaw ADC does not answer to any commanders on base, taking any conflict of interest out of the legal situations they handle.
“In the broad spectrum of defending Airmen, we do everything from letters of counseling to a court martial,” said Staff Sgt. Anastasia Bohanon, ADC paralegal. “We help them write and review their response and give them the best possible product we can for when they turn it in to either their commander, their supervisor or first sergeant, whoever gave them the letter of counseling or letter of reprimand.”
The Shaw ADC office assists approximately 7,000 Airmen with legal issues including LOCs, LORs, disciplinary review boards, referral officer and enlisted performance reports, and demotions.
“Normally, we will be helping the person who is receiving the allegations,” Bohanon said. “The person who is making the allegation gets a special victim’s counsel; that’s their lawyer.”
Though the 20th Fighter Wing legal office and the ADC office both defend Airmen, they are very different. The legal office supports and defends the side of Air Force regulations and the Airman making an allegation, while the ADC stands on the side of the Airman receiving the allegation.
“As far as the court martial process is concerned, we basically help walk them through the process,” said Bohanon. “If they are convicted, we go through their sentencing as well.”
Bohanon went on to say that if the Airman being prosecuted needs to vent or discuss the case, the ADC is available. During active legal cases, Airmen are not allowed to converse with anyone other than their lawyer about the situation. ADC members are always on the side of the Airman with the allegations against them, whether or not they are guilty.
“It’s basically me and sergeant Bohanon taking on everybody on behalf of the guy or girl who feels the weight of everything crushing down on them,” said Capt. Joshua Joyce, Shaw area defense counsel. “We want to be there in (the Airman’s) corner.”
The ADC office’s mission is to provide defense services to any Airman on base.
Joyce went on to say he likes helping people, especially on some of the harder cases, such as court martials. Though a lot of Airmen he represents are innocent, the Airman may be deeply distressed or distraught and feeling as if they are losing the battle. At this point, he tells them a boxing anecdote.
“My goal is to help push them back into the ring, help them keep fighting and to assure them that I’m going to be right there next to them to continue the fight,” said Joyce.
For more information or to contact the ADC, call 803-895-1775.