Judge Advocate

Author:Jeffrey Lehman, Shirelle Phelps
 
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A legal adviser on the staff of a military command. A designated officer of the Judge Advocate General's Corps (JAGC) of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps.

The JAGC was created by GEORGE WASHINGTON on July 29, 1775, only 44 days after he took command of the Continental army. Since that time the U.S. Army's JAGC has grown into the largest government "law firm," numbering 1,500 judge advocates on active duty.

Judge advocates are attorneys who perform legal duties while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. They provide legal services to their branch of the armed forces and LEGAL REPRESENTATION to members of the ARMED SERVICES. In addition, judge advocates practice international, labor, contract, environmental, TORT, and ADMINISTRATIVE LAW. They practice in military, state, and federal courts. A judge advocate attorney does not need to be licensed to practice law in the state in which he or she practices because they are part of a separate, military system of justice.

Under the UNIFORM CODE OF MILITARY JUSTICE, judge advocates are the central participants in a military COURT-MARTIAL (military criminal trial). A judge advocate administers the oath to other members of the court, advises the court, and acts either as a prosecutor or as a defense counsel for the accused. A judge advocate acting as defense counsel advises the military prisoner on legal matters, protects the accused from making incriminating statements, and objects to irrelevant or improper questions asked at the military proceeding. All sentences with a penalty of dismissal, punitive discharge, confinement for a year or more, or death are subject to review by a court of military review in the office of the judge advocate general of the U.S. Army, Navy, or Air Force, depending on the branch of service to which the defendant belongs. A sentence imposed on a member of the Marine Corps would be reviewed by the office of the judge advocate general of the U.S. Navy.

A judge advocate is admitted to the armed services as an officer. Because the Uniform Code of Military Justice is different from civilian law in many respects, a judge advocate undergoes an orientation and then education in MILITARY LAW. The U.S. Army's JAGC school, for example, at Charlottesville, Virginia, provides a ten-week academic course for new JAGC officers to learn about the mission of the corps and to receive an overview of military law.

Each branch of the armed forces has...

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