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P. Simmons
P. Simmons, Military Lawyer
Category: Military Law
Satisfied Customers: 27003
Experience:  Retired Marine Corps lawyer and Veterans Services Officer (VSO) with 12+ yrs. of experience.
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I am managing linguists as one of my additional duties during

Resolved Question:

I am managing linguists as one of my additional duties during this deployment. We recently closed down a FOB and during the confusion two of the linguists lost some personal property to coalition forces. I brought this to the attention of our BDE legal officer and they initially were helpful. When the linguists statement came through and it implicated that Soldiers were involved they have ceased to respond to my email. The linguist is a local national employed by MEP and contracted by US.
What options are available to me to get this linguist compensated without risking the IRE of the command staff? Can I submit forms for his losses without a statement from him? What is legal supposed to do and also other than unit funds are there any other funds that can be used? One of the linguists was compensated out of his advisors own pocket so that he wouldn't complain. I have a list of the other interpreter's items and their value and it amounts to 800.00 which is substantial for an Afghan.
I am also upset that I am getting the appearance they want me to drop it but no one has said anything. We redeploy in the next few weeks and I don't want this interpreter to get screwed. Is this a valid complaint to the IG or someone higher.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Military Law
Expert:  P. Simmons replied 1 year ago.
Thanks for the chance to help. I am an attorney with over 12 years military law experience.

Typically the BDE will have an SJA (staff judge advocate) on the staff... This may or may not be the "legal officer"...but they will be a JAG officer. Have you contacted the BDE SJA? If so result?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Mr. Simmons,


 


Please read my question again. Your answer is in the 3rd and 4th sentences.

Expert:  P. Simmons replied 1 year ago.
Sorry for any confusion. My question was to ensure that the legal officer was, in fact, the SJA. Commands, on occasion, will employ the S1 to perform a collateral duty as legal officer. This is not the same as an SJA. A legal officer is not required to be a lawyer. An SJA (staff judge advocate) is a lawyer (I believe you call them JAG in the Army)

I take it from your response you were dealing with the SJA. If not, you may want to go to the SJA.

This is significant, as I would expect the SJA to understand the foreign claims process, where an S1 who is performing the collateral duty as legal officer may not understand the foreign claims process using the Military Claims Act (MCA).

The MCA is the law that will apply here. It is found at Title 10 U.S.C. Section 2733. The MCA covers claims for damages that are caused by military personnel or civilians who are acting within the scope of their employment or that are caused by military activities.

It is similar to the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) but it has worldwide applicability (unlike the FTCA)

To file is simple enough...the claimant(s) file SF 95 (you can see that form http://www.gsa.gov/portal/forms/download/116418)

This will initiate an investigation into the circumstances of the loss and allow payment to the claimant.

You ask if you can submit for the linguist? No...the linguist would need to file the SF95 to start the process. The funds to pay the claim would come from appropriated funds but not, typically, from the operating budget of the unit. But there must be a "claim" against the government, signed by the claimant before the MCA can kick in...no formal claim, no implication of the MCA, not method to reimburse.

Now...you ask about if there is a way to process this "without risking the IRE of the command staff? "

There is...and this leads back to my question about if this was an SJA you were dealing with, or just the legal officer.

It may be the BDE does not have an SJA...that depends on the TO for the BDE...but if they do have an SJA, I would expect the SJA to have used the same process that I used, as an SJA, to resolve such issues.

I recall fondly XXXXX XXXXX as "judge" where my commander empowered me, in my role as SJA, to conduct an investigation into the circumstances of the alleged loss and attempt to find a resolution. I know my Army counterparts had similar responsibilities.

I am proud to say that I had a great record in this regard...when I, in my role as SJA, laid out to the Marines who were accused of the damages or loss, that they had a few choices, they could work with the aggrieved party to find a solution or I could report this through the MCA process, in nearly every instance the Marines were happy to negotiate to solve the problem. For good reason...they did not want to "risk the IRE of the command staff"...in the rare case where I was unable to solve the problem with the Marine in question, NCIS (the Navy version of CID) was helpful in sorting out the matter.

My point is that there is an informal way to resolve what you describe. No SJA wants to have to go through the MCA process if they do not have to...so I would expect the SJA to step in and help resolve this without a formal investigation. If they will not? Then you have to go through the MCA claims process (with the SF95)

You mention you spoke to the legal officer...if this was the SJA, you may want to re-approach and see if you can get them to engage to help avoid an MCA claim. If they can not or will not, then the recourse for the linguist would be to file the SF95

Let me know if you have more questions...happy to assist if I can
P. Simmons, Military Lawyer
Category: Military Law
Satisfied Customers: 27003
Experience: Retired Marine Corps lawyer and Veterans Services Officer (VSO) with 12+ yrs. of experience.
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P. Simmons
P. Simmons
Military Lawyer
27003 Satisfied Customers
Retired Marine Corps lawyer and Veterans Services Officer (VSO) with 12+ yrs. of experience.