Law and order: 509th BW
By Staff Sgt. Alexandra M. Boutte, 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 21, 2012
WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by three separate yet equally important groups: the security forces/office of special investigations who investigate crime, the paralegals who research crimes and the base attorneys who prosecute the offenders.
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The 509th Bomb Wing Staff Judge Advocate office performs four essential functions: military justice, operational law and legal assistance, protecting Air Force resources and freedom of action, morale and welfare.
"There are a lot of similarities between the military justice system and the civilian justice system," said Capt. Michael Pierson, 509th JA Chief of military justice. "Our military rules of evidence are based off the rules that are commonly practiced in federal court."
The military justice system is a commander's program designed to support good order and discipline in the unit and to ensure mission accomplishment.
"I see that good order and discipline is preserved on the installation," Pierson said. "We work hand-in-hand with 509th Security Forces Squadron Airmen to obtain evidence that will go forward to a court martial."
When a crime occurs, security forces patrolman conduct the apprehension or detain civilians, interview individuals and process evidence. Any additional interviewing or investigation required will be conducted by the 509th SFS investigations section.
"Security forces works with the JA office on a frequent basis," said Staff Sgt. Allison Maitland, 509th SFS law enforcement NCO in-charge. "Patrolman contacts the JA office for legal questions and advice frequently."
A JA handles a wide variety of legal issues in real-world experience in the practice of law. The legal issues they encounter are wide-ranging, including criminal law, government contract law, labor law, international law, environmental and real property law.
"I work with Airmen with their legal issues such as landlord tenants, divorce questions and finances," Pierson said. "Our paralegal team is vital to our process."
Paralegals perform the underlying work ranging from doing research to investigating accidents and seeing a trial is properly done by developing what the punishment might be.
"Not only do we help make sure Whiteman has good order and discipline, but also by performing powers of attorneys, wills, contracts and legal guidance," said Senior Airman
Brett Berry, 509th JA paralegal. "Once a month we are also tasked to help with magistrate court, for civilians who commit crimes on base."
For more information on services the legal office offers, call 660-687- 6809 or visit https://aflegalassistance.law.af.mil.