Bar association welcomes high-flying speakers

Published 8:21 pm Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Ret. Lt. Col. Susan Turley, an attorney-advisor with the Air Force Legal Operations Agency, spoke to members of the Chilton County Bar Association on Tuesday.

Turley works for the Judge Advocate General Corps (JAG) IT Division at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery.

Founded in 1949, the JAG Corps serves as the “conscience” of the Air Force.

Its members advise commanders at all levels on topics ranging from disciplinary matters to operational concerns. JAG is made up of attorneys, enlisted paralegals and civilian personnel, including Reserve and Air National Guard members.

“Military justice is what we call our bread and butter,” Turley said. “That is our criminal justice equivalent.”

There are about 165 military lawyers and support personnel in the Central Alabama region. Air Force attorneys deal with a myriad of issues, from the release of government information to non-judicial punishment.

Turley illustrated the latter in the story of a young man who was a gate operator at a California base. He had had his tongue pierced and was asked to remove a stud from his tongue. He initially refused and said his First Amendment rights were being taken away.

The story was told as an example of how the military must remain objective and maintain a uniform appearance.

Turley said the most crucial aspect of national security is cyber law.

“The things people can do with computers is amazing to me,” she said.

She also talked about the JAG School at Maxwell.

The school’s staff comprises 32 attorneys, 16 paralegals and 13 support personnel.

Thousands are trained each year from basic officer trainees to emerging senior leaders in Air War College.

Turley concluded with the Air Force’s involvement in the community, through roles like school career days, scouting, tutoring, Red Cross volunteering and church volunteer work.

“We are part of your community. The military only survives because we have the support of the community,” she said.