Two separate and distinct legal commands provide services to Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard commands and personnel in Louisiana: Region Legal Service Office Southeast (RLSO SE) and Defense Service Office Southeast (DSO SE). The distinction is important. RLSO SE provides commands with legal advice relating to military justice and command services and also furnishes legal assistance to eligible individual service members and their families. DSO SE provides legal advice and personal representation for service members facing courts-martial and administrative separation boards.
Prosecution of Courts-Martial
The New Orleans branch office for RLSO SE provides preliminary processing including drafting of charges, review of preliminary inquiries and advice regarding the preferral and referral of court-martial charges. The staff conducts litigation of courts-martial trials, including the preparation and authentication of records of trial, and provides victim and witness assistance as required. The staff judge advocate (SJA) office is in Building 46, and the attorney assigned to this position serves as the SJA for the base’s commanding officer. The SJA and the staff also provide command services and military justice advice and training to command leadership of tenant commands at NAS JRB New Orleans as well as Navy commands across the state of Louisiana.
RLSO SE provides post-trial courts-martial assistance including timely review and advice regarding the convening authority’s action, preparation of promulgating orders and forwarding of records of trial to appellate authority as appropriate.
Additionally, summary courts-martial (SCM) advice and assistance, including drafting of charges, review of preliminary inquiries and referral of charges, is available. Along these lines, RLSO SE can provide advice and training to potential SCM officers or provide an SCM officer in certain instances.
RLSO SE provides advice and assistance for all aspects of non-judicial punishment including preliminary processing, conducting the NJP hearing, preparing letters of censure and forwarding appeals.
Moreover, RLSO SE conducts JAG manual investigations training, advice and assistance to investigating officers in preparation of reports and review by the convening authority. It provides administrative separation advice and assistance in all aspect of the administration separation process including providing Recorder in appropriate cases.
Miscellaneous command services (and training) in myriad administrative law matters includes, but is not limited, to the following topics: officer/enlisted performance, detachment for cause, government ethics, fraternization, sexual harassment, search and seizure, IG/congressional Inquiries, FOIA/privacy act, freedom of expression, mental health evaluations, indebtedness complaints, hate crimes issues and family advocacy issues including child abuse, paternity, family support and domestic violence.
Commands requiring services which fall within any of these categories can call the RLSO SE branch office New Orleans at 504-678-4664/9589.
Base Legal Assistance Office
The base legal assistance office is in Room 225A in Building 492. The attorney assigned to this position works directly for the RLSO SE legal assistance director in Pensacola, Florida. The legal assistance office enhances the readiness and welfare of active-duty and Reserve members of the armed forces by providing quality legal services regarding personal civil legal matters to eligible persons and by educating eligible persons regarding their personal legal rights and responsibilities.
Legal assistance staff accomplishes its mission by direct client assistance services and a vigorous preventive law program that educates and informs the military community through a variety of creative and stimulating outreach efforts. This office provides legal assistance services to clients eligible to receive services in accordance with federal law, applicable regulations and service policies. Legal assistance attorneys draft wills, living wills, medical powers of attorney, and other special and general powers of attorney. They also provide basic advice on diverse matters such as divorce and child support, landlord-tenant issues, consumer protection laws such as the Fair Debt Collection Act, the Unfair Deceptive Acts and Practices Act, and the Service Members Civil Relief Act, as well as mobilization/active duty recall-related laws including the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act. Notary services are also available. To set up an appointment with the legal assistance attorney, call 504-678-4692/4694.
Services and advice to eligible individuals are related to a wide range of legal issues. Common issues include, but are not limited to:
- Consumer law: identity theft, general and automobile contracts, creditor/debtor and consumer fraud/abuse.
- Family law: divorce, child and spousal support, and paternity issues.
- Estate planning: wills, basic trusts, medical powers of attorney, springing powers of attorney and living wills.
- Landlord/tenant and property law: review and interpretation of leases, security deposits, evictions, housing codes and review of real estate purchase agreements.
- Immigration law: naturalization, immigration for dependents and other personal citizenship issues.
- Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA): advice on the protections and effects of the SCRA, including protections from default judgments while deployed, interest caps on pre-service debt obligations (e.g., student loans), and ability to break property and service leases in case of deployments or permanent change of station (PCS) moves.
- Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act (USERRA): advice on the protections and effects of USERRA as well as assistance in exercising rights under this law, for Reserve Component members.
- Taxes: advice on federal, state and local taxes. The office also provides income assistance with online tax filing during the January through April tax season.
Upon request by an active or Reserve command, RLSO SE legal assistance attorneys also can provide pre- and post-mobilization legal briefs, as well as briefs on any legal assistance subject referenced here.
Legal Assistance Hours
Notary and power of attorney services are available 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday on a walk-in basis (no appointment required). Emergencies are dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
Legal assistance appointments are available 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Emergencies are handled on a case-by-case basis.
Eligible individuals requiring legal assistance services may call 504-678-4692 or DSN 678-4692 for more information.
Limitations on Legal Assistance
A legal assistance attorney cannot represent individuals in a civilian court but can give advice on civil matters and can provide assistance in finding civilian counsel where applicable. A legal assistance attorney may not advise or assist in, or become involved with, individual interests opposed to or in conflict with the interests of the United States.
Eligibility for Legal
Military personnel: Active-duty, retired, Reservists (pre- and post-mobilization and when on active duty for 30 days or more) and their eligible dependents are eligible for all services. Members of allied forces and their dependents may also be eligible for services.
Civilian personnel: DOD civilians deploying for at least 30 days to a combat zone, in support of a contingency operation or aboard a naval vessel are eligible for all services. Legal assistance may also be provided to dependents of these civilians, both before and during deployment, on deployment-related matters. All services are to be provided within current means and capabilities of the legal assistance office. Additionally, legal assistance may be provided to civilian employees and their dependents for a reasonable period, but not to exceed 30 days, after the civilian returns from deployment to close out ongoing legal assistance matters related to deployment that arose before or during deployment.