Once the Air Force Office of Special Investigation (AFOSI, or just “OSI”) feels they have enough evidence to establish probable cause, they will forward their investigation to the legal office for review. Probable cause is an exceptionally low standard, often seen as little as 15% proof. Normally a finding of probable cause will be the base legal office for the unit of the accused Airman. An attorney in that legal office, usually a judge advocate called the “Chief of Military Justice,” will review the case and give recommendations to the Wing or Squadron commander (depending on how serious the matter is). After this step, the command will decide what action, if any, to take against the Airman.
Once CID feels it has enough to establish the someone committed a crime, they will present that evidence to a judge advocate, usually the unit Military Justice Advisor (MJA). The MJA will issue a legal opinion called an “opine” as to whether there is probable cause – meaning evidence reasonably shows the Soldier committed the crime. If there is probable cause, the case will then move to the “disposition” phase, meaning the command will consider possible adverse action against the Soldier, who has now been “titled” as the “Subject” of the CID case.
The process of administrative separation, especially for alleged misconduct, has a tendency to cause panic. Even from that initial verbal or written counseling that the service member is heading for this military employment firing action, it can elevate anxiety. That is completely understandable. However, in most cases, there is nothing inappropriate about what the command is doing. The process can take some time, and even if you are entitled to an administrative separation board to determine if you should be fired, in most scenarios you have an obligation to begin the process of clearing. For more detailed information about the propriety of pre-clearing and to help you learn more about whether what the command is asking of you is appropriate, please review the information contained in this post.
In many instances, there are specific topics that your chain of command cannot discuss with you. The primary example is if members of your chain of command want to question you about your alleged misconduct. This requires you to politely decline and to direct the chain of command to your legal representative.
However, there are plenty of times when you are required to or should communicate with you chain of command. This is a nuanced field. For more detailed information including examples of when you may refer your command to your lawyer and when you should not, please review this informative blogpost.
A Letter of Reprimand or LOR is the most severe form of an administrative disciplinary action the command can pursue. The following are in order of severity from the least severe to the most serious: Record of Individual Counseling (RIC), Letter of Counseling (LOC), Letter of Admonishment (LOA), and Letter of Reprimand (LOR).
The LOR itself is administrative in nature and is intended to be used to correct substandard behavior, though it can often feel like punishment. Given the possible harmful second and third order effects of receiving an LOR on one’s career, it should not be taken lightly. With an LOR, you have a right to respond. Service members wishing to consider responses that will be most helpful should contact experienced counsel.
An LOR is a Letter of Reprimand. LORs are quality force management tools used by supervisors, superiors, and commanders to improve and correct subordinates’ behavior to address perceived unsatisfactory performance, departure from military bearing or professionalism, misconduct either on duty or off duty, etc. These tools are supposed to be used to correct behavior rather than to punish behavior.
An LOR is more severe than a Record of Individual Counseling (RIC), Letter of Counseling (LOC), or Letter of Admonishment (LOA). Being given any of these administrative disciplinary actions is not any evidence of guilt of any offense.
The seriousness of the alleged departure from standards, in addition to the member’s previous disciplinary record, should be taken into consideration when determining what type of action the command or supervisors should take. The standard of proof for these adverse actions by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning that it is more likely than not that the alleged misconduct occurred. This preponderance standard is often referred to as 51% proof.
ADC stands for Area Defense Counsel. The ADC at an Air Force or Space Force installation is responsible for providing legal defense advice, counseling, and representation to Department of the Air Force service members. The ADC is equivalent to a public defender for Department of the Air Force service members.
The ADC assists and represents Department of the Air Force service members facing adverse administrative or disciplinary actions. These adverse actions include, but are not limited to, Letters of Counseling, Letters of Reprimand, Non-judicial punishment (or Article 15s), Unfavorable Information Files (UIF), administrative demotion or separation actions, and referral evaluations. The ADC also becomes assigned to aid Department of the Air Force service members facing criminal judicial proceedings, such as, an Article 32(b) preliminary hearing or court-martial.
The ADC offers their services free of charge to Department of the Air Force service members. The ADC team is not assigned to any local command or installation where they are located.
Learn more about how much experience an ADC has here.
The “ADC” is the Area Defense Counsel for an Air Force or Space Force installation who is an Air Force judge advocate (lawyer) or military attorney. Typically, this position for the attorney is their second assignment as a judge advocate and their first one defending clients against adverse actions or judicial proceedings.
The attorney’s experience in military law is very minimal at this point in their career. The ADC’s experience typically only includes between 18 months to 2 years at an installation legal office plus a 9-week course at the beginning of their military career that addresses all facets of military law. Depending on the caseload of their first assignment at an installation legal office, the ADC may have participated in prosecuting a handful of criminal cases, at most. Therefore, their experience in military criminal law is even more limited.
Any servicemember who believes that they may be facing an adverse administrative action or criminal charges should contact a qualified civilian defense counsel as early as possible.
Click here to see more information on what an ADC is.
The impact of an LOR, or Letter of Reprimand, itself can vary in its impact on your career depending on your rank and the issuing authority of the LOR.
If you are an enlisted member and receive a “desk drawer LOR” from your first-line supervisor means that it will not be filed in your Personnel Information File (PIF). If this occurs, then you may not see any secondary effects from the LOR. However, if your Flight Chief, First Sergeant, or Commander issue you an LOR and file it in your PIF you could see several of the below actions following your LOR.
If an Officer receives and LOR, no matter the issuing authority, the LOR is required to be filed in an Unfavorable Information File (UIF) and in the Officer’s Selection Record (OSR). These subsequent actions are adverse to an officer’s ability to be promoted and therefore, can be detrimental to the officer’s career.
In addition, there are several consequential effects from an LOR one could face as described below. Any of the below combined with an LOR could be a basis for involuntary separation from the service with a less than Honorable service characterization. Leaving the service without a full Honorable discharge has significant consequences to you in civilian life.
UIF: A UIF or Unfavorable Information File is similar to a PIF, except only unfavorable or negative information is contained in the file and it is maintained by the Force Support Squadron (FSS) rather than the individual’s flight or squadron. For enlisted members, the LOR will remain in the UIF for 1 year; for officers, 2 years.
Control Roster: A control roster is rehabilitative tool to assist Commander’s in evaluating a member’s performance. It is a list of individuals within a unit that require monitoring, observation, evaluation, etc. A control roster requires an observation period of 6 months. While on a control roster, a servicemember is not permitted to PCS, be promoted or re-enlist, and formal training must be canceled.
Referred OPR / EPR: The conduct which was a basis for the LOR may also be included in an OPR / EPR, which, in turn, may cause the report to be referred. Referred reports have their own secondary impact on one’s potential to be promoted or retained in the service.
Promotion deferral or “red line”: If a servicemember is on a promotion list or has a promotion line number, receiving an LOR can cause their promotion to be deferred / delayed or even removed / “red lined.”
Assignments: As described above, if a servicemember finds themselves on a Control Roster, PCSs are prohibited until removed.
Decorations: Issuance of an LOR can be considered when determining if a servicemember is deserving of a decoration at the end of a deployment, assignment, etc.
OSR: All LOAs and LORs, as well as LOCs related to a substantiated finding or conclusion from an officially documented investigation or inquiry, are required to be filed in the Officer Selection Record (OSR). All officer adverse information placed in the OSR is subject to the Department of the Air Force records retention requirements, meaning it will not be removed from the OSR until it meets the required disposition criteria and timeframe.
Maybe. Law Office of Jocelyn C Stewart may take a matter on behalf of a service member on a case by case basis to DOHA. The Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals (called DOHA) reviews requests to cancel invalid debts and even applications to forgive debts. DOHA handles claims involving military pay, allowances, travel, transportation, monies when a member wants payments for unused accrued leave, involving disputes on retired pay, and even what are known as survivor benefits. These claims can arise from service that was CONUS and OCONUS. Even if a member or civilian employee was accidentally overpaid, DOHA handles requests to waive the accidental overpayment of debts (including travel and relocation). DOHA even handles certain contractual claims most of which involve disputes between moving companies and a branch of the armed forces about the carrier’s liability when property is lost or damaged in transit pursuant to a government bill of lading. All cases are unique.
The Firm will assess the viability of the application during the initial consultation and then determine if the likelihood for success.
Being a former service member herself and working exclusively on military cases, Ms. Stewart has amassed experience to help in the following areas of the UCMJ:
When faced with the decision of hiring a UCMJ specialist, Ms. Stewart’s former clients explain all that is necessary about her commitment to their case and her expertise in handling the toughest legal battles. Learn more about her unique abilities in the words of her clients, peers, and military judges.