Command Responsibilities

SJA’s are designated as the “local responsible official” and have the following responsibilities:

  • militarydefenseattorneys9.47.02 PM copyEstablish and supervise Victim/Witness Assistance Program (VWAP) within their GCM jurisdiction. Ensure establishment of local policies and procedures to accord crime victims’ the rights described in the Bill of Rights above.
  • Establish a Victim and Witness Assistance Council to extent practicable, at “each significant military installation,” to ensure interdisciplinary cooperation.
  • Designate, in writing, Victim/Witness Liaison (VWL).
    • Preference for a commissioned or warrant officer or civilian (GS-11 and above).
    • Exceptional circumstances allow SSG and above, or GS-6 and above.
    • VWL’s should be outside the military justice section “to the extent permitted by resources.”
    • To the extent resources permit, SJA’s “should refrain from appointing attorneys as VWL’s.”

COMMUNICATE WITH THE VICTIM

Victims have a right to be informed of the status of the case within 15 days of the proffer of charges, and every 30 days thereafter. Keeping victims informed is a requirement of the victim’s bill of rights.

Keeping witnesses informed is good practice to maintain a cooperative relationship.

  • Ensure Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA) inform victims and witnesses of VWL’s name, location and phone number.

TRAINING!

Must ensure annual training is provided to all agencies involved in program. At a minimum, training will cover victims’ rights; available compensation through federal, state, and local agencies, providers’ responsibilities under the VWAP program, and requirements and procedures of AR 27-10, Chapter 18.

  • Ensure DoD Victim and Witness Bill of Rights is posted in office of commanders and agencies providing victim and witness assistance.
  • Establish separate waiting areas at courts-martial and other investigative proceedings. “In a deployed environment, victims and Government witnesses should be afforded a separate waiting area to the greatest extent practicable.”
  • Ensure victims and witnesses are advised that their interests are protected by administrative and criminal sanctions, i.e. obstruction of justice charges, etc., and that victims and witnesses should promptly report any attempted intimidation, harassment, or other tampering to military authorities.
  • Ensure appropriate law enforcement agencies are immediately notified in case where the life, well-being, or safety of a victim or witness is jeopardized by his or her participation in the criminal investigation or prosecution process.
  • Ensure victim’s and witness’ requests for investigative reports or other documents are processed under FOIA or Privacy Act.
  • Ensure DD Forms are distributed/completed.
  • Coordinate with criminal investigative agents to ensure all noncontraband property seized as evidence is safeguarded and returned; ensure victims are informed of applicable procedures for requesting return of property.