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Legal eagles descend upon Vandenberg

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The 14th Air Force military justice office is hosting a Post-Trial Workshop April 8 and 9 at the Pacific Coast Club here. 

Legal corps Airmen from throughout the Air Force will attend the workshop, which covers everything from day-of-trial actions to the appellate process. 

"Each block of instruction will go through every step of the post-trial process," said Maj. Jeanette Skow, the chief of military justice for the 14th AF. "We have a wide range of experts coming to talk about how to do it right." 

Some of those experts include Major Skow; Tech. Sgt. Angela Dixon, the NCO in charge of military justice for the 14th AF; Ethel Ahrendt, a court reporter for the 30th Space Wing legal office; and Col. Tom Helget, an appellate military judge from the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals. 

It's important to have experienced legal professionals conduct these briefings since a lot is at stake after a verdict is read, said Major Skow. The post-trial actions of a team of lawyers and paralegals must be correct to ensure the rights of the individuals involved, as well as the verdict itself, are upheld. 

"If there's a mistake, it could cause the case to be overturned," Sergeant Dixon said. "If the accused is already discharged, it could cause the accused to be recalled to active duty and retried. Classes like this are important to prevent things like that from happening." 

In fact, this class has what could be considered a proven track record at preventing post-trial mistakes. The 14th Air Force's military justice office has held this workshop annually since 2005 and has not had a post-trial process error since then. 

"We actually do like to attribute (that record) to us becoming the experts in post-trial processing," Major Skow said. "The track record is very good, so the bar's pretty high. But we're up for it."