Meet Kentucky’s Newest JAG Team…”And the GOOD news is…”

Story by Lt. Col. Kirk Hilbrecht, Director of Public Affairs, Kentucky National Guard

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The Kentucky National Guard’s Staff Judge Advocate General, Lt. Col. Natalie Lewellen (seated), (L-R) Capt. Spencer Robinson, Staff Sgt. Paulette Terry and Lt. Col. Jason Shepherd. The team works to provide legal counsel to the Kentucky Guard. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

FRANKFORT, Ky – Kentucky’s Staff Judge Advocate Lt. Col. Natalie Lewellen has a vision for her Judge Advocate General directorate.

“Our door is always open and we will always give you our best legal opinion. Hopefully such advice will be helpful to the Commanders and Service members we are here to serve,” Lewellen stated. “There may not always be an easy legal ‘Yes’ in every scenario or proposal, but we will always try to help you find a legal and ethical option that will work.”

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Lt. Col. Jason Shepherd and Capt. Spencer Robinson discuss a legal case file in Frankfort, Ky., Aug. 19, 2014. The members of the Kentucky Guard’s Staff Judge Advocate General’s office assist in handling a wide variety of legal cases on a daily basis. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

Kentucky’s State Judge Advocate has seen a significant uptick in casework with in the National Guard and Kentucky. Most of these cases involve violations in ethics, regulations and sexual assault cases. Lewellen attributes the increase in caseloads to the drawdown in theatre operations and an increase in ethic and work environment awareness.

“The military has amplified focus in the areas of government ethics and sexual assault prevention in recent years,” said Lewellen. “As a result, there are now higher demands for education, training, investigation and resolution in these areas, which expands the scope of the traditional legal caseload.  In fact, elements in both the NCOER and OER directly reflect the Soldier’s workplace attitude and bearing with regard to these ideas, as to the wave of new policies, instruction and directives issues by higher authorities in these areas.”

With only Lewellen and Staff Sgt. Paulette Terry, full-time staff paralegal, serving Kentucky’s 8,500 troops on a daily basis, case work began to pileup.

To expedite the increased case load, Lewellen brought on two more full-time JAG officers; Lt. Col. Jason Shepherd and Capt. Spencer Robinson.

Both have extensive backgrounds in law and regulations. Prior to joining the Kentucky Guard JAG team, Shepherd worked for the IRS’ tax exemption and government divisions. Robinson worked as a contractor for Medicaid cases and in a private law practice.

“I was interested in the types of cases the Kentucky JAG office worked on,” stated Robinson. “This JAG office is more interesting and challenging that the general practices and state agencies I’ve served.”

Though this current JAG team has been together for a short time, they have quickly learned to exercise each others’ strengths.

“I really like the crosstalk and the complimentary talents each of us has to serve our Kentucky Guard,” said Shepherd. “Having a qualified JAG office focused on helping our Kentucky Guard find the right way through a problem truly is good news.”

 

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