Special Victims’ Counsel (SVC) are judge advocates that will zealously represent the interests of the victim throughout the investigatory and military justice processes. The main objective of an SVC is to provide legal support to individuals eligible for military legal assistance and DHS/CG civilian employees who are victims of an alleged sex-related offense. SVCs fill the gap in the military justice process which can sometimes overlook the victim’s interests.

SVCs provide independent advice and representation to the victim and report to the Chief, Member Advocacy Division (CG-LMA-A). No one in a victim's chain of command or the accused’s chain of command will influence an SVC in providing legal support to a victim.

SVCs may establish an attorney-client relationship with the victim and communications between an SVC and a client will be treated as confidential and privileged.

SVCs provide their clients with the following non-exclusive list of services;

For restricted1 reports of sexual assault, these legal services include but are not limited to:

  • Protecting client’s right to be treated with fairness and respect;
  • Advising client of, and coordinating access to, the authorized individuals to whom a victim may make disclosures. These include a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC), a Family Advocacy Specialist (FAS), a Victim Advocate (VA), a Coast Guard or Department of Defense (DoD) Health Care Provider (HCP) or a Chaplain;
  • Assisting and providing legal guidance on changing a restricted report to an unrestricted report.

For unrestricted reports, these legal services include, but are not limited to:

  • Protecting client’s right to be treated with fairness and respect;
  • Advising client of additional individuals and services from whom they may seek assistance and support;
  • Advising client of and protecting client’s right:
    • to be reasonably protected from the offender;
    • to be notified of court proceedings;
    • to be present at all public court proceedings unless the court determines victim’s testimony would be materially altered;
    • to confer with government counsel in the case;
    • to receive restitution, if available; and,
    • to know the outcome of trial and release of offender from confinement;
  • Advocating on client’s behalf to various parties in the military justice system;
  • Contingent on availability and at client’s request, attending in-person interviews with CGIS, trial-counselor the defense. If scheduling conflicts prohibit in-person attendance, then participating via video- teleconference or other means;
  • Accompanying client to all military justice proceedings for which the victim has a right to attend;
  • Advocating on behalf of the client in military justice proceedings where they are afforded an opportunity to be present and heard, including submitting legal arguments through written pleadings on their behalf and, if permitted by the court, submitting oral argument before the military judge;
  • Providing legal consultation regarding collateral misconduct and client’s right to seek consultation with a defense counsel;
  • Legal consultation regarding responsibilities and support provided by SARC and VA, including providing insight into Military Rule of Evidence 514 (Victim Advocate – Victim privilege);
  • Legal consultation regarding potential for civil litigation against parties other than the Coast Guard;
  • Legal consultation regarding the military justice system and applicable rules of evidence including Military Rules of Evidence 412 (alleged sexual behavior or predisposition) and 513 (Psychotherapist-patient privilege);
  • Legal consultation regarding eligibility and requirements for medical and mental health services;
  • Legal consultation and assistance during any proceedings of the military justice process in which a victim can participate as a witness or other party, including Military Protective Orders and Civil Protective Orders, in understanding and obtaining any military and veteran benefits, including transitional compensation and benefits under the Uniform Services Former Spouses Protection Act.

Additionally, SVCs can help victims of sexual assault with:

  • Obtaining a copy of the court-martial trial transcript;
  • Obtaining a copy of any statements made to military criminal investigators such as CGIS;
  • Providing an unsworn statement during the sentencing phase of any court-martial;
  • Submitting post-trial matters for the convening authority’s consideration;
  • Providing input to the convening authority regarding the prosecution of your case; and,
  • Submitting a request for an expedited permanent change of station

SVC services are available to:

  • Active Duty members
  • Retirees
  • Reservists (when the offense was committed while on AD or in drilling status or if there is a nexus between the alleged offense and the reservists military service)
  • Immediate family members (dependents) of Coast Guard members and retirees who are eligible for legal assistance pursuant to COMDTINST 5801.4E, Legal Assistance Program
  • DHS/CG civilian employees

Sexual assault victims can contact their local Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) to make a request for an SVC or may contact the Member Advocacy Division directly. Generally, an SVC will be detailed within 48 hours of receiving a request but can provide services immediately upon request as necessary.

For more information about the SVC Program or to request an SVC, call or email the Chief of the Member Advocacy Division, Ms. Christa Specht.

Phone: 202.795.6920 / Email: OSVC@uscg.mil

After hours, please call 202-795-6920, 202-297-6984, 202-689-4679, or 510-384-3458.

To request an SVC through a SARC, please visit their website for the relevant contact information.

http://www.dcms.uscg.mil/Our-Organization/Assistant-Commandant-for-Human-Resources-CG-1/Health-Safety-and-Work-Life-CG-11/Office-of-Work-Life-CG-111/Sexual-Assault-Prevention-and-Response-Program/Sexual-Assault-Response-Coordinator-Contact-List/

 

1 For the definition of restricted versus unrestricted report of sexual assault, please see Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) Program, COMDTINST M1754.10.

MAILING ADDRESS:

2703 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave
Mail Stop 7000
Washington D.C. 20593-7000
Office: 202.795.6918