News | Jan. 15, 2010

Criminal Law (Code 20)

By Lt. Jaimica M. Giarraputo, Criminal Law (Code 20)

Most everyone knows Code 20 as the Office of the Judge Advocate General (OJAG) division that sends out the military justice newsmailers. If you’re in a military justice billet, you may also think of us as the office that provides trial and defense counsel assistance. What you may be surprised to learn, however, is that those things are a relatively small – though fun – part of what we do.

In a nutshell, Code 20 is responsible for overseeing all aspects of military justice policy within the Department of
the Navy. We draft military justice policy advice, action memos, military justice instructions, and correspondence for the JAG. Code 20 officers also represent the Navy in meetings of the Joint Services Committee on Military Justice and serve as a JAG representative to the Naval Clemency and Parole Board. Although we are located at the Washington Navy Yard, our work often requires our presence at the Pentagon.

There are three junior officers in Code 20 who serve as action officers in specific areas of concentration. For example, a Code 20 action officer may oversee the processing of FOIA requests relating to military justice, monitor the processing of Article 69 appeals or administer the Code 20 NKO website, which requires keeping it well-stocked with appellate case law updates, training gouge, sample pleadings and charges, etc.

On a more periodic basis, Code 20 assists with obtaining approval for grants of immunity, warrants of attachment, and orders recalling members to active duty for trial. This involves coordination with offices outside of OJAG, including offices within the Department of Justice, the Secretary of the Navy, and the Department of Defense. Since Code 20 facilitates the processing of applications for presidential pardons, we also interact with the Office of the Pardon Attorney; and, of course, we interface with our Marine Corps, Army and Air Force counterparts, whether working together on the Joint Services Committee or on a military justice issue of common concern. A current issue of concern is regulation on designer drugs to include “Spice”.

At Code 20, there is no typical day. You may find yourself spending an entire day focused on one urgent issue with a short deadline, or you may skip across the wave-tops and touch a number of issues in a single day. One thing is certain you will be working in a great office surrounded by great people who care a lot about the Navy’s military justice practice and, especially, about its practitioners.

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