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Airmen have rights if suspected of a crime

  • Published
  • By Capt. Ian Holzhauer
As the Area Defense Counsel team, Tech. Sgt Bryan Hawk and I have together represented hundreds of Airmen across Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Kadena Air Base, Japan, and Hickam AFB, Hawaii. What our Airmen tell us individually is 100 percent confidential, but we can say generally is that we hear a common fear from many of our clients: "Will I really get a fair trial in the military?"

For our justice system to work properly, Airmen need confidential, competent, and dedicated legal representation. That is why the ADC team is here. We have an entirely separate chain of command from the Wing to ensure our independence. Our only job is to confidentially help Airmen suspected of crimes in the military, and we are proud to do so.

But more than just strong defense services are needed to ensure that Airmen get fair trials. Perhaps the most important protection for Airmen is that the players in our military justice system respect the constitutional right of Airmen to be presumed innocent at trial unless proven guilty, by competent evidence, beyond a reasonable doubt. Those are a lot of words, but they mean something simple: Our supervisors, commanders, and juries owe it to our servicemembers to wait until all the evidence is developed before determining a member's guilt.

From time to time, some topics become areas of focus for military leadership. A generation ago, the drug problem was an area of attention. Several years ago, the increasing use of the synthetic drug "Spice" was a major focus area for Air Force leaders. Currently, the topic of sexual assault has been in the news and on the minds of Airmen.

Whatever the crime, however, the Constitution will always guarantee the right to a fair trial to a servicemember. When supervising, investigating, or deciding the fate of an Airman accused of a crime, whether it is something as minor as being a minute late to work, or as potentially major as a sexual assault, please remember the guarantees of our Constitution. Leaders must uphold their duty to make sure all evidence is developed before jumping to any conclusions. At the end of the day, the Constitution requires us to thoroughly review the evidence and make impartial judgments, or our system cannot work.

In the end, following the legal process, waiting until all the evidence is developed, and protecting the rights of Airmen at trial will guarantee a fair process.

The ADC Team at Andersen is located on the back side of the Mission Support Group Building. For legal assistance, call Tech. Sgt. Hawk or Capt. Holzhauer at 366-2281 for a confidential appointment.

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