Paralegals uphold order, discipline of the Air Force

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Joshua Smoot
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
Whether providing legal guidance to commanders or legal services to Airmen, paralegals from the 341st Missile Wing play a vital role in the Air Force legal system.

At the base legal office, there are several paralegals performing tasks that include processing cases, drafting documents for court, conducting research and interviewing witnesses and victims.

Paralegals at Malmstrom are split into different sections dealing with military justice and civil law.

The military justice section handles the legal processes such as courts-martial, Article 15s, discharges and demotions.

Airman 1st Class Ryan Lee, 341st MW military justice paralegal, works with court-martials.

"A lot of the things I do for courts-martial include drafting documents for attorneys and going over checklists before court," Lee said. "A lot of the (information) used in court is drafted by (paralegals)."

Airman 1st Class Melanie Davis, 341st MW military justice paralegal, is assigned to deal with Article 15s at Malmstrom.

Ultimately, commanders decide the punishments then coordinate with the legal office to draft up an Article 15.

Davis then works with the attorneys to draft the punishment on the Air Force Form 3070 and the attorney assigned to that particular case reviews it before sending it back out to commanders.

"We are the support behind the attorneys so they can advise the commanders," said Staff Sgt. Ashley Bell, 341st MW military justice paralegal.

Airman 1st Class Nick Pineda, 341st MW civil law paralegal, is tasked with the civil law portion of the base legal office.  His tasks include dealing with claims, reports of survey, legal reviews, off-duty employment, wills and powers of attorney.

"If individuals file a claim against the Air Force, it is my job to get repair estimates, look up laws and then decide if the claim is fraudulent or not," Pineda said.

To become a paralegal, one must be enlisted and complete the two month technical training at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.

In technical school, paralegals learn everything from paralegal history, to military justice and claims and civil law.

Lee, who has been a paralegal for two years, says his favorite part of being a paralegal is "working hand-in-hand with attorneys to complete the mission."