Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Jiang
PACIFIC OCEAN – When USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) got underway from Naval Base Kitsap – Bremerton, Nov. 22, the legal department had four extra personnel, judge advocates from shore commands.
The four officers, one from Navy Region Legal Service Office Northwest and three from Navy Region Legal Service Office Hawaii, are joining John C. Stennis to see firsthand how the Navy operates at sea and assist with providing legal services to John C. Stennis Sailors.
“Sometimes in the JAG community, we can get a little bit isolated,” said Lt. John Doyle, a military prosecutor at Navy Region Legal Service Office Northwest, from Western Springs, Illinois. “A lot of JAGs work in region legal service offices or defense service offices where they work with a lot of other JAGs … but it’s also important to get out to the fleet to see what the rest of the Navy is up to.”
While on board, the visiting JAGs will be available to provide legal services the ship’s legal department is unable to due to potential conflicts of interest.
“Lawyers have an ethical obligation not to represent two clients who might have a conflict of interest,” said Lt. Annie Preis, John C. Stennis’ deputy command JAG, from Los Angeles. “Because our job is to advise [the command], we often cannot advise Sailors on certain issues … I wish that I could help every person who came to our door, so it’s nice to be able to actually direct them to someone on board.”
The visiting JAGs will be able to advise Sailors on will writing, handling debt and other personal legal matters.
“The kinds of services are really about making sure that you can have your things squared away at home … so that when you’re out here doing your job, you don’t have to worry about that kind of stuff,” said Doyle.