Offutt ADC: The best friend you never want

  • Published
  • By L. Cunningham
  • 55th Wing Public Affairs

Offutt’s Area Defense Counsel office is one of 67 ADC offices located in and outside the continental United States and is manned by a two-person team consisting of an attorney and a paralegal. This dedicated team works to answer questions and help military members through any adverse action they may be facing.

The defense provided by the ADC is independent from the base legal office, the 55th Wing or any of its units, allowing the ADC to make difficult decisions without fear of reprisal from command interference.

“Coming to see the defense counsel is not something you do ‘when you’re guilty;' it’s something you do when you are scared or you have something to lose,” said Capt. Kimberly Hopkin, ADC attorney. “And every Airman has a potential career that is something to lose.”

Their work in military justice is confidential as they protect Airmen when the Air Force wants to take adverse or criminal action against active-duty Airmen or Guardians, including those on active duty orders.

They represent active duty members in actions under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, at court martials, nonjudicial punishment actions, and other actions such as letters of reprimand, administrative discharges, administrative demotions, unfavorable information files and more. An LOC or LOR from a supervisor can lead to bigger things such as a UIF, and some disciplinary actions can lead to permanent revocations of security clearances or even discharge from the military.

Tech. Sgt. Bennie Rizzo is the ADC paralegal. His job includes performing intakes, speaking to clients, and checking for conflicts by making sure that attorney does not already have a client that is directly connected by association and facing the same charges. The paralegal also provides legal advice and helps to build rapport with the client.  

“After doing this about a year, I have come to realize that a lot of my job is about mentoring people,” said Rizzo. “Some of them are really young and I help them to understand how and what they did wrong, but that doesn’t define who they are and it’s not something they should have to carry with them the rest of their life.’

The military has Article 31 rights, which means a military member is required to be told what law they think was broken. Under military law if an Air Force member is suspected of committing a criminal offense, they have the right to remain silent and the right to consult with the ADC lawyer free of charge prior to making any statement.

According to Rizzo, the ADC office had over 500 clients since the beginning of the year.

Rizzo closes ADC briefings by saying the ADC is "the best friend you never want.”

If a military member has something to lose, such as a security clearance, rank or military career contact the ADC and utilize the free and confidential service that only they can provide. They can answer questions and assist while the command is still investigating before any action is taken.

The ADC office is located on the third floor of Bldg. C in room 302 or call 402-294-3939.