32 CFR Appendix to Part 145 - Appendix to Part 145—Legal Representation

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Appendix to Part 145—Legal Representation

1. An employee or member of the Armed Forces asked to provide information (testimonial or documentary) to the OSC in the course of an investigation by that office may obtain legal advice from DoD attorneys, both civilian and military, on that employee's or members's rights and obligations. This includes assistance at any interviews with OSC investigators. However, the attorney-client relationship shall not be established unless the employee is suspected or accused by the OSC of committing a prohibited personnel practice or other illegal or improper act and has been assigned DoD counsel.

2. An employee who believes that he or she is suspected or has been accused by the OSC of committing a prohibited personnel practice or other illegal or improper act may obtain legal representation from the Department of Defense under the conditions prescribed in § 145(b)(1) of this part, except as provided in section 7, below. The attorney assigned shall be a military member or employee from another Component whenever an attorney from the same Component is likely to face a conflict between his or her ethical obligation to the employee client and to the Component employer, and in any case where the suspected or accused employee has requested representation from another Component. Outside legal counsel may be retained by the Component on behalf of the employee only under unusual circumstances and only with the personal approval of the General Counsel of the Department of Defense.

3. The General Counsel responsible for authorizing representation shall determine whether a conflict is liable to occur if an attorney from the same Component is assigned to represent the employee and, in that case or in a case in which the suspected or accused employee has requested representation from another Component, shall seek the assistance of another General Counsel in obtaining representation from outside the Component. The General Counsels of the Military Departments and the DLA shall ensure the availability of appropriately trained counsel for assignment to such cases.

4. To obtain legal representation the employee:

a. Must request legal representation, in writing, together with all process and pleadings served, and explain the circumstances that justify DoD legal assistance.

b. Indicate whether he or she has retained legal counsel from outside the Department of Defense.

c. Obtain a written certification from his or her supervisor that the employee was acting within the scope of his or her official duties, and that no adverse or disciplinary personnel action against the employee for the conduct being investigated by the OSC has been initiated by the Component.

5. Employee requests for legal representation must be approved by the General Counsel, DoD, for employees of OSD or a Defense Agency (other than the DLA), or by the General Counsel of a Military Department or the General Counsel of the DLA for employees of those Components.

6. The conditions of legal representation must be explained to the accused employee in writing and accepted in writing by that employee.

7. DoD resources may not be used to provide legal representation for an employee with respect to a DoD disciplinary action against the employee for committing or participating in a prohibited personnel practice or for engaging in illegal or improper conduct, regardless of whether that participation or conduct is also the basis for disciplinary action proposed by the OSC.

8. After approval of an employee's request, under section 4, above, a DoD attorney shall be assigned (or, in unusual circumstances, outside counsel retained) as the employee's representative in matters pending before the OSC or MSPB. This approval may be limited to representing the employee only with respect to some of the pending matters if other specific matters of concern to the OSC or MSPB do not satisfy the requirements of his Directive.

9. An attorney-client relationship shall be established and continued between the suspected or accused employee and assigned DoD counsel.

10. In representing a DoD employee under this part, a DoD attorney designated counsel for the employee shall act as a vigorous advocate of the employee's individual legal interests before the OSC or MSPB; the attorney's professional responsibility to the Department of Defense and his or her employing Component will be satisfied by fulfilling this responsibility to the employee. Legal representation may be terminated only with the approval of the General Counsel who authorized representation, and normally only on the basis of information not available at the time the attorney was assigned.

11. The attorney-client relationship may be terminated if the assigned DoD counsel for the employee determines, with the approval of the General Counsel who authorizes representation, that:

a. The employee was acting outside the scope of his or her official duties when engaging in the conduct that is the basis for the OSC investigation or charge.

b. Termination of the professional representation is not in violation of the rules of professional conduct applicable to the assigned counsel.

12. The DoD attorney designated counsel may request relief from the duties of representation or counseling without being required to furnish explanatory information that might compromise the assurance to the client of confidentiality.

13. This part authorizes cognizant DoD officials to approve a represented employee's request for travel, per diem, witness appearances, or other departmental support necessary to ensure effective legal representation of the employee by the designated counsel.

14. An employee's participation in OSC investigations, MSPB hearings, and other related proceedings shall be considered official departmental business for time and attendance requirements and similar purposes.

15. The following advice to employees questioned during the course of an OSC investigation may be appropriate in response to the most frequent inquiries:

a. An employee may decline to provide a “yes” or “no” answer in favor of a more qualified answer when this is necessary to ensure accuracy in responding to an OSC interviewer's questions.

b. Requests for clarification of both questions and answers are appropriate to avoid misinterpretation.

c. Means to ensure verification of an interview by OSC investigators are appropriate, whether the employee is or is not accompanied by a legal representative. Tape recorders may only be used for this purpose when:

(1) The recorder is used in full view.

(2) All attendees are informed.

(3) The OSC interrogator agrees to the tape recording of the proceeding.

d. Any errors that appear in a written summary of an interview prepared by the interviewer should be corrected before the employee signs the statement. The employee is not required to sign any written summary that is not completely accurate. An employee may make a copy of the summary for his or her own use as a condition of signing.