Attorney battles crime on military, civilian fronts

CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle Christina Tatum said the military offered her the opportunity to travel and gain courtroom experience.

By Sharna Johnson: Freedom Newspapers

Christina Tatum lives a double life as a crime fighter.

Most days she serves as a deputy district attorney, handling 100 to 200 cases at any given time. She also spends a minimum of 30 days a year as an Air Force Reserve Judge Advocate General officer at Cannon Air Force Base.

Tatum, 31, is in her second year at the district attorney’s office after serving four years active duty in the military and the last three in the reserves.

“I still like putting on my uniform. It makes me feel like I’m part of the JAG community again,” she said. “It’s something I’m proud to be.”

One of her duties at Cannon is as an investigating officer, where she weighs evidence and testimony at Article 32 hearings, the military’s version of a grand jury.

“I’m not there every day so I can listen impartially with fresh ears and make recommendations,” she said.

Other JAG duties include helping deployed airmen fill out wills, reviewing contracts and preparing criminal cases.

Tatum also served a stint defending airmen accused of crimes.

According to Air Force personnel officials, there are 600 reserve JAG officers, less than one-third women.

The decision to join the Air Force was born from a family military tradition and a desire to serve her country, she said.

“And I wanted to have an opportunity to travel and have all kinds of courtroom experience.”

Her wish came true. Tatum likens her military legal career to a “potpourri.”

She is married to Clovis native Drew Tatum, a fellow Air Force JAG officer and attorney.