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WNC prosecutor also serves as military judge

Assistant District Attorney John Hindsman during the murder trial of Alex Crisp in Bryson City. Quintin Ellison photo Assistant District Attorney John Hindsman during the murder trial of Alex Crisp in Bryson City. Quintin Ellison photo

By Quintin Ellison • Special to SMN

John Hindsman Jr. leaves his civilian job this week for his military one, transforming from local assistant district attorney into Maj. Hindsman, U.S. Army Reserve judge advocate.

As a member of Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps, Hindsman deploys for monthly training to Puerto Rico with his unit on Thursday, Nov. 12. During the unit’s battle assembly, soldiers will spend four days honing their military skills.

When at home, Hindsman works in the 43rd Prosecutorial District for District Attorney Ashley Hornsby Welch. Though his duties can take him into any of the seven counties that make up the district, he typically works in Macon, Clay and Cherokee counties.

The 38 year old is a Clay County native who lives near Hayesville with his wife, Michelle, who is an interior designer. His parents are Jane and Steve Hindsman.

“The district attorney has been exceptionally supportive of my double duties, as has my wife,” Hindsman said.

Hindsman frequently works on his military cases at night or on weekends, after his assistant district attorney duties end for the day. Additionally, he participates in the monthly training with his unit, as well as spends up to 30 days each year on active duty. 

In 2013, Hindsman was mobilized to serve as trial counsel within 4th Infantry Division in Fort Carson, Colorado.

“While there, I worked numerous sexual assault cases, a high-profile murder case and an international child sexual abuse case in conjunction with the Colorado Springs Police Department,” he said. “No one day was like another.” 

 

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John and Michelle Hindsman. Donated photo

 

“You receive a broad legal education and learn how to be part of a team. I do not have a problem expressing my opinion, but within a command structure, you have to say it in a respectful way. And, ultimately, I know it is only my opinion and advice.”

Welch said Hindsman’s experience as a military lawyer benefits the office. He and Assistant District Attorney Kimberly Harris, a Cherokee County native and veteran of the U.S. Army, add depth to her team’s legal talents, she said, thanks to military service.

Harris served four years on active duty as an intelligence analyst with Second Stryker Brigade.

Hindsman has a family history of military service: his father is a U.S. Navy veteran who undertook two tours in Vietnam. His uncle served in the Air Force.

“John cares deeply about giving back, and serving in the military is just one way he does that,” Welch said. “I’m proud — our entire staff is proud — of his service. He puts a huge amount of time and effort into both his assistant district attorney work and his military work.” 

Recruited by the Army and U.S. Marine Corps while in high school, Hindsman elected instead to attend Appalachian State University in Boone. He soon found himself in ROTC, his first step to becoming a judge advocate. 

Hindsman holds two bachelor degrees, one in criminal justice and the other in political science, as well as two minors, one in business management and the other in military leadership. After college, Hindsman joined the Army as a signal corps officer, commissioned as a second lieutenant. He was granted an educational delay to attend law school and selected Campbell University. 

He was recommissioned in 2009 as a judge advocate. The JAG Corps typically selects only 10 to 20 percent of civilian applicants and junior officer applicants each year, according to information compiled by the Army. 

During his years of service, Hindsman has worked in a variety of roles for the military, including helping service members with wills, powers of attorney, notarizations, income tax preparation and landlord/tenant issues.

Currently, Hindsman serves as judge advocate for the 1st Mission Support Command in Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico, and as operational law attorney for 402d Civil Affairs Battalion. The battalion conducts civil affairs missions in Central and South America with support from the 1st Mission Support Command. 

In his role as a judge advocate, Hindsman advises his battalion commander on operational law. JAGs are encouraged to have a broad range of experience, and in the span of his military career, Hindsman has worked in civil, maritime and international law and served on the Rule of Law team for developing countries.

“I have a very strong belief in public service, as do my parents,” Hindsman said. “When home, as a senior assistant district attorney, I serve the community I live in and the people I grew up with. When away, I’m proud to serve my country.”

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