Military Law & Veterans' Rights
As a former officer with the Judge Advocate General's (JAG) Corps, I understand military law. I spent eight years as a prosecutor, three years as the chief defense counsel for the Army in Europe, and nine years as an appellate judge on the Army's Court of Criminal Appeals. Since 1994, I have represented active and retired service members as a lawyer in private practice.
The Law Offices of Steven M. Werner, P.C. in Colorado Springs assists service members and veterans in three ways:
- In adversarial proceedings brought against them by the armed forces
- By assisting them in the prosecution of claims against the armed forces, such as disability benefits
- By representing veterans and service members in civilian legal matters such as divorce
Courts-Martial and Other Adversarial Proceedings
Most service members facing criminal investigations, courts-martial, non-judicial punishment, and administrative separation know about their right to legal counsel. The reason for this is simple: military authorities are required to advise them that they are entitled to legal counsel before they may take adverse legal action against them.
In general, legal counsel means a judge advocate detailed to represent them or requested by them if that judge advocate is reasonably available. It also means selected civilian counsel at no expense to the government.
In my three decades of military service, I found that representation by judge advocates was excellent. However, sometimes it is wise to hire a civilian attorney. This occurs when you wish to receive advice and assistance from a lawyer who works outside the military establishment. You not only receive two attorneys, but you also receive two perspectives regarding your case.
I understand military law and the military legal system, having observed it from the vantage point of a prosecutor, defense counsel and judge. Should you wish to hire a civilian attorney, my expertise and experience will be invaluable in achieving the best result possible for you.
Claims Against the Armed Forces
Most service members and their family members do not know that they may need legal counsel when filing claims against the armed forces for injuries or damage to their property caused by the government.
Historically, service members and their families were not able to file claims against the government because of the legal doctrine of sovereign immunity. After World War II, Congress passed laws waiving sovereign immunity in certain situations.
The military claims system was established to enable service members and their families to file claims against the government without having to go to court. Examples of such claims include injuries suffered in military hospitals, or damage to property caused by the actions of civilian or military personnel acting in the line of duty.
I have been a claims judge advocate and have a full and thorough knowledge of the military claims system. Should you need assistance in filing and pursuing a claim against the armed forces, I have the expertise to assist you.
Representing Service Members in Civilian Legal Matters
Normally, service members are not entitled to military legal representation with personal legal problems such as divorce, credit or landlord-tenant problems. Such matters as child and spousal support, custody orders, and division of military pensions frequently arise when military personnel divorce. I understand the system governing military pay and allowances and how it impacts on divorce proceedings. Moreover, I understand the Service Members Civil Relief Act, a federal law protecting service members from overzealous creditors and landlords.
For more information about military law or veteran's rights: Call 719-473-4885 or fill out the contact form on this Web site. My law office is located near the courthouse in Colorado Springs.