MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
The mission of the area defense counsel at MacDill Air Force Base is to offer legal advice and guidance to all Airmen under any circumstances.
U.S. Air Force Capt. Michael Leahy, ADC attorney, and Staff Sgt. Prentice Felton, ADC paralegal, are a two-man team responsible for representing Airmen of all ranks from MacDill Air Force Base, Patrick Space Force Base and Homestead Air Reserve Base.
The ADC office is open to all Department of the Air Force members regardless of rank and duty title.
“I’ll sit down with Airmen, NCO’s [non-commissioned officers] and even officers,” said Felton. “We’re here to help anyone in the Air Force navigate their career and connect them with the best resources possible for their situation.”
The team provides legal consultation on everything from letters of counseling to court martials, with their focus being on deciding appropriate responses to accusations.
Leahy describes a victory in the courtroom not as a replacement for reprimand, but as a path to a punishment fit for the offense.
“None of the cases we see are black and white, and it’s never as simple as good versus bad,” said Leahy. “Our job is to tell the story behind our clients, to really look at the motivation behind an alleged offense and communicate that in the courtroom.”
The duo also operates under leadership in Washington D.C. rather than their home installation, keeping all Airmen seeking their services and themselves free from reprisal. Additionally, all clients retain attorney client privilege meaning any information discussed in the meeting cannot be released unless it poses a threat to self or others.
The team specializes in Air Force law, but they also serve as a focal point in joint environments, by connecting joint service members with proper representation.
In addition to providing legal defense, Leahy and Felton also serve as mentors to junior enlisted Airmen.
“The majority of my time here is spent sitting and talking with our clients,” said Felton. “I’ll sometimes spend two to three hours discussing life with Airmen trying to put them on the right path.”
The biggest mistake most Airmen make is not connecting with the ADC staff at their earliest opportunity, claims Leahy.
“Unfortunately, people come through our doors with the fifth piece of paperwork when they really should’ve on the first,” said Leahy. “We’re here to help, but we can’t do that without Airmen taking the first step to come and see us.”
MacDill’s ADC office is located on the second floor Hangar 4. To set up an appointment with the team call (813) 828-4455.