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What does an Air Force Judge Advocate General do?

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  • Written By: J.M. Densing
  • Edited By: Jacob Harkins
  • Last Modified Date: 28 November 2016
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In most references, an Air Force Judge Advocate General is an Air Force lawyer. An Air Force lawyer provides any and all legal services that civilian lawyers provide, just within the military. This includes criminal law, civil law, environmental law, property law, and claims and litigation, just to name a few. The Air Force Judge Advocate General Corps is the legal department of the U.S. Air Force, commonly referred to as JAG. Lawyers who are part of the JAG corps are also frequently referred to as JAGs. The JAG corps provides all legal services to members of the Air Force, and has a presence on each Air Force base.

The Air Force has its own complete criminal court system, trials within this system are called courts martials. An Air Force Judge Advocate General lawyer assigned to this system typically starts out as a prosecuting attorney to gain experience. Then, as more experience is gained, there are opportunities to move into other areas of criminal law such as a becoming a defense attorney who works independently in a separate office. A JAG lawyer can also serve as a circuit prosecutor or defender, who travels between many Air Force bases trying criminal cases that are felony cases. There is also another level above this, appellate attorneys for both the defense and the government located in Washington, D.C., that handle appeals in criminal cases all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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An Air Force Judge Advocate General working in civil law deals with a variety of issues, such as disagreements between Air Force command and enlisted servicemen, retirements, and other forms of discharge from the Air Force. Other types of issues they may handle include issues about pay, equal opportunity, civil rights, fraud, ethics and other types of complaints. This is all similar in scope to the type of work a civil attorney would do. An Air Force Judge Advocate General also deals with claims against the government and other entities for various losses including injuries, medical costs, and property damage or loss. In addition, they try to recover funds paid by the government for losses from the responsible parties.

When dealing with property law, an Air Force Judge Advocate General handles all aspects of law related to property. This can include a range of issues from the purchase, annexation or sale of property, to disputes concerning property, zoning, and land use. When dealing with environmental law, an Air Force Judge Advocate General helps to ensure that the Air Force is in compliance with local, state and federal regulations. They review reports and other environmental documents to ensure compliance, deal with local municipalities in applying for permits and variances, and work with Air Force command, civil engineers, various agencies to find solutions to environmental problems.

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