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Rule

Legal Assistance

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Department of the Navy, DOD.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

The Department of the Navy is amending its regulations concerning the provision of legal assistance to military members and other persons eligible for legal assistance to reflect recent changes to Chapter VII of the Manual of the Judge Advocate General.

DATES:

Effective May 9, 2000.

ADDRESSES:

Office of the Judge Advocate General (Code 36), 1322 Patterson Avenue SE, Suite 3000, Washington Navy Yard, DC 20374-5066.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Lieutenant Commander Steven L. Haycock, Judge Advocate General's Corps, U.S. Navy, Office of the Judge Advocate General (Code 36), 1322 Patterson Avenue SE, Suite 3000, Washington Navy Yard, DC 20374-5066, Telephone number (202) 685-4642.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Pursuant to the authority cited below, the Department of the Navy amends 32 CFR Part 727, which is derived from Chapter VII of the Manual of the Judge Advocate General, to reflect changes to that regulation. The amendment relates to internal naval management and personnel practices, and is being published by the Department of the Navy solely for the guidance and interest of the public in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 552(a)(1). It has been determined that invitation of public comment on this amendment prior to adoption would be impracticable and is not required under the public rulemaking provisions of 32 CFR parts 296 and 701. It has also been determined that this rule is not a “significant regulatory action” as defined in Executive Order 12866.

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List of Subjects in 32 CFR Part 727

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Accordingly,

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PART 727—LEGAL ASSISTANCE

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1. The authority citation for part 727 continues to read as follows:

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Authority: 5 U.S.C. 301; 10 U.S.C. 5031 and 5148; 32 CFR 700.206 and 700.1202.

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2. Revise § 727.5 to read as follows:

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Persons eligible for assistance.

Legal assistance shall be available to members of the Armed Forces of the United States and their dependents, and military personnel of allied nations serving in the United States, its territories or possessions. Legal assistance is intended primarily for the benefit of active duty personnel during active service, including reservists (and members of the National Guard) on active duty for 30 days or more. As resources permit, legal assistance may be extended to retired military personnel, their dependents, survivors of members of the Armed Forces who would be eligible were the service member alive, reservists on active duty for single periods of 29 days or less, and in overseas areas, to civilians, other than local-hire employees, who are in the employ of, serving with, or accompanying the U.S. Armed Forces, and their dependents, when and if the workload of the office renders such service feasible, and other persons authorized by the Judge Advocate General of the Navy.

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3. Amend § 727.6 by revising paragraphs (a) introductory text, (a)(2), (a)(6), and (d) to read as follows:

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Functions of legal assistance officers.

(a) Basic duties. A legal assistance officer, while performing legal assistance duties, in addition to performing any other duties which may be assigned to him/her:

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(2) Shall serve as advocate and counsel for persons eligible for assistance in connection with their personal legal problems and may Start Printed Page 26749prepare and sign correspondence on behalf of a client, negotiate with another party or his lawyer, and prepare all types of legal documents, including pleadings, as are appropriate.

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(6) Shall advise persons with complaints of discrimination on policies and procedures under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and pertinent Navy instructions.

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(d) Professional legal advice. Legal assistance is authorized for personal legal affairs only, as contrasted with military justice problems, business ventures, or matters that are not of a personal nature. Legal assistance duties are separate and apart from responsibilities of trial counsel, defense counsel, or others involved in processing courts-martial, nonjudicial punishments, administrative boards or proceedings, and investigations. Only legal assistance officers are authorized to render services that call for the professional judgment of a lawyer. The legal assistance officer may delegate tasks to clerks, secretaries, and other lay personnel provided the officer maintains a direct relationship with the client, supervises the delegated work, and has complete professional responsibility for the work product. Services that call for the professional judgment of a lawyer include, but are not limited to, the preparation of wills and powers of attorney, advising personnel with respect to legal rights and relationships, negotiating contracts, and other matters requiring an educated ability to relate the general body and philosophy of law to a specified legal problem of a client. Guidance in this matter may be had from various official sources including the ethical considerations under the Code of Professional Responsibility of the American Bar Association.

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4. Amend § 727.7 by revising paragraphs (a), (b), (d) and (e) to read as follows:

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(a) Assistance in official military matters. Legal Assistance duties are separate and apart from the responsibilities of a trial counsel, defense counsel, or other officer involved in the processing of courts-martial, nonjudicial punishment, administrative boards or proceedings, investigations, or other official military matters. Frequently, a service member accused or suspected of an offense or conduct leading to an administrative proceeding will request advice from the legal assistance officer. In such a case, the service member should be advised of the proper procedures for obtaining counsel or advice. This limitation does not prevent the assignment of the same officer to perform the functions of a legal assistance officer and the functions of a defense counsel, counsel for respondent, or counsel for a party.

(b) Domestic-relations cases. In domestic-relations cases, a legal assistance officer may provide advice concerning the legal and practical implications of divorce, legal separation, annulment, custody, and paternity. Assistance and advice in domestic violence cases will be consistent with the Department of the Navy family advocacy program. If two or more eligible persons with conflicting interests seek legal assistance from the same office on the same matter, the party first establishing an attorney-client relationship will be provided representation. Other parties shall be advised that they are also eligible for assistance, but that it must be obtained from another source, with the assistance of and referral by the first office.

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(d) Proceedings involving the United States. A legal assistance officer shall not advise on, assist in, or become involved with, individual interests opposed to or in conflict with the United States without the specific approval of the Judge Advocate General.

(e) Telephone inquiries. In the absence of unusual or compelling circumstances, legal advice should not be given over the telephone. This does not prohibit appropriate follow-up telephone discussions between the legal assistance attorney and the client.

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5. Amend § 727.8 by revising the first sentence to read as follows:

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Confidential and privileged character of service provided.

All information and files pertaining to the persons served will be treated as confidential and privileged in the legal sense as outlined in the Code of Professional Responsibility, as opposed to confidential in the military sense of security information. * * *

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6. Amend § 727.10 by revising paragraphs (a) and (c) to read as follows:

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Fees, compensation, solicitation, and representation in civilian courts.

(a) General. Active duty military personnel and civilian employees of the Navy and Marine Corps are prohibited from accepting or receiving, directly or indirectly, any fee or compensation of any nature, in cash or otherwise, for legal services rendered to any person entitled to legal assistance under this part whether or not the service rendered is normally provided or available to such person under this part and whether or not the service is rendered during duty hours as part of official duties. Reserve judge advocates on inactive duty are prohibited from accepting or receiving any fee or compensation of any nature, in cash or otherwise, for legal services rendered to any person entitled to legal assistance under this part with respect to matters about which they consulted or advised said person in an official capacity.

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(c) Representation before civilian courts or agencies. No active duty Navy or Marine Corps judge advocate may appear as counsel on behalf of any person entitled to legal assistance, except as provided in paragraph (a)(3) of § 727.6, or the Expanded Legal Assistance Program, or under guidelines prescribed in the Manual of the Judge Advocate General, before any civil court, civil administrative tribunal, civil regulatory body, or civil governmental agency, in any proceeding, whether or not a fee or other compensation is accepted or received, without prior written approval of the Judge Advocate General, the administrator of the applicable program, or the Commander, Naval Legal Service Command, as appropriate. Requests for such permission may be in the form prescribed in the Manual of the Judge Advocate General.

7. Amend § 727.12 by revising paragraph (b) to read as follows:

Communications.
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(b) The use of a legal assistance office letterhead within the Department of the Navy is authorized as an exception to the standard letterhead requirements contained in Department of Defense Instructions. Naval Legal Service Offices and other commands having authorized legal assistance officers are authorized to print and use letterheads without seal or official command designation in those matters in which the correspondence pertains solely to legal assistance matters. Legal assistance officers are directed to ensure that their correspondence does not imply United States Navy or command sponsorship or approval of the substance of the correspondence. Such correspondence is considered a private matter arising from the attorney-client relationship as indicated in § 727.8.

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Dated: April 27, 2000.

J.L. Roth,

Lieutenant Commander, Judge Advocate General's Corps, U.S. Navy, Federal Register Liaison Officer.

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[FR Doc. 00-11505 Filed 5-8-00; 8:45 am]

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