Expanding Department of Defense Employee’s Access to Special Victims’ Counsel Representation in the MSPB Forum Open Access
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With the creation of the Air Force Special Victims’ Counsel program, Air Force Judge Advocates are appointed to represent victims of sexual assault throughout the military justice process. Historically these legal services were provided primarily to active duty military members and their dependents. However, this program recently expanded to include Department of Defense civilian employees as eligible beneficiaries of these legal services provided by Air Force Judge Advocates. While this expansion of services to DoD civilian employees is a good step towards providing DoD civilian employees that are sexual assault victims access to legal services, there is still a significant deficiency in the extent of the legal representation that an Air Force Judge Advocate is able to provide to a DoD civilian employee that has been a victim of sexual assault. First, a DoD civilian employee is not eligible for legal representation by an Air Force Judge Advocate if she was assaulted by a fellow DoD civilian employee. Legal services are only available to a DoD civilian employee victim if the perpetrator is an active-duty military member. Second, even if the DoD civilian employee is able to obtain legal representation by a Judge Advocate, the Judge Advocate is not allowed to represent the DoD civilian employee during a Merit Systems Protection Board hearing. This thesis will propose expanding the Air Force SVC program to allow for Air Force Judge Advocates to represent DoD civilian employees that have been sexually assaulted by fellow DoD civilian employees. This thesis will also propose expanding the program to allow for Air Force Judge Advocates to represent DoD civilian employees that are testifying about their sexual assault during a Merit Systems Protection Board hearing. By expanding the Air Force SVC program in these two very important ways, the Air Force would be able to ensure it is providing meaningful legal services to an essential part of its workforce.