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NEWS | Oct. 6, 2015

Behind Civil Law

By Airman 1st Class Thomas T. Charlton 628th Air Base Wing/Public Affairs

The 628th Air Base Wing's legal group provides legal advice and handles legal functions for the people on Joint Base Charleston.

The legal office is split into two major branches, military justice and civil law. Civil Law contributes to the successful functioning of the base and Jon Stanley, 628th ABW/Judge Advocacy, is the chief of the civil law division Oversees.

"The Civil Law division handles installation environmental issues.  Whenever there is construction on the base, we check on environmental, procurement and labor law requirements," Stanley said, "Breaking down civil law's branches, we work with the 628th Civil Engineer Squadron for environmental issues, the 628th Contracting Squadron for contracts and procurement, 628th Force Support Squadron for civilian labor and the 628th ABW/Equal Opportunity office for discrimination cases. We also handle general law. General Law covers line of duty determination and reports of survey.  Line of duty determination applies when someone is injured in the line of duty or as a result of misconduct. Reports of survey cover property damage on an installation."

While Civil Law covers the contracting, environmental and civilian issues, the legal office also has another department known as Military Justice.

Stanley said "Military Justice is run by uniformed service members handling discipline, court martials, Article Fifteen's, demotions, discharges, Letters of Reprimand, control rosters, Unfavorable Information Files and things of the like for uniformed service members."

The legal office is always trying to improve the Military Justice system.

Stanley said "We are trying to establish an armed forces disciplinary board for the joint base to more easily address legal issues or concerns for members who work on the base."

Though the legal office has standard operating hours, most days the staff either arrives early, stays late or does both.

"It doesn't bother me having to come in early or stay late doing what I do," Stanley said, "Doing what I do with my team, it's like we're a family. These people make it worth it for me to go the extra mile."

Additionally, the Civil Law office has another specialty.

Stanley said, "If you are a military member and you are married to or becoming married to someone that is from another country, we help to ensure your spouse can either become a U.S. citizen or get you reunited as soon as possible."
On top of all of the other services, the legal office also provides a legal assistance program.

Erin Dixon, 628th ABW/Judge Advocacy chief of legal assistance, explains, "The legal assistance program is amazing. We can help you with any legal questions you may have to get you on the right path," Dixon said, "When it comes to people trying to do events and plans for their office or squadron, there are usually some legalities that must be followed. So they might get a 'no' from us. However, just because it was a 'no' doesn't mean we can't work around it to make something happen in their favor. We also have pamphlets at the front desk to help answer a lot of people's questions when it comes to making moves on contracts or other legal issues."

Although there are numerous benefits from the legal assistance program, some misconceptions still persist.

Stanley said, "One problem is that people don't think they need help and don't come to us before they make their decision. They come afterwards, making it more difficult to help them."

Conveniently, classes for legal assistance are available both at the Naval Weapons Station and the Air Base.

Dixon said, "Starting the third of November, the legal assistance class hours will be changing."

The hours on the AB for walk-in legal advice are from noon to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays. Thursdays are appointment only from 8-11 a.m. and notary services and powers of attorney are offered Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. All of which are located at building 16000.

The hours on the NWS for walk-in legal advice are from 8-11 a.m. on Mondays (it is preferred you show up by 1030 the latest). Mondays are appointment only from noon to 4 p.m. Notary services and powers of attorney are offered Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The office is closed daily from 11 a.m. to noon. All of which are located at building 84.

The workload for the Civil Law branch is staggering.

Stanley said, "Tracking through a suspense system, this office does twelve hundred tasking's per year. Before the Air Base and Weapons Station merged to Joint Base Charleston, we were doing around seven hundred tasking's per year."

Getting the work done efficiently is attributed to one simple secret.

"I love the Air Force," Stanley said, "When I stay late I don't mind staying late because I love what I do. Some of the greatest people I know have been Airmen I've worked with. This office is like my family. The greater part of my day is spent here. I am here 10 hours a day on the weekdays and with Miss Dixon, she works with me in the Reserves so there are times where we see each other 12 days in a row. So when you think about it, if you don't like doing what you do with the people you do it with that would be a huge problem. But I look at the people in my office and see both a bond and a family. "