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Assistant Federal Public Defender-Capital Habeas Unit 17-13 Austin, Texas

Assistant Federal Public Defender-Capital Habeas Unit
Job Location: 
Austin, Texas
Date Posted: 
Friday, September 15, 2017

The Federal Public Defender for the Western District of Texas is now accepting applications for the position of Assistant Federal Public Defender for the newly formed Capital Habeas Unit in Austin, Texas. The Capital Habeas Unit (CHU) is responsible for representing death-sentenced prisoners in federal habeas corpus proceedings in the United States District Courts in Texas, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and the United States Supreme Court. There are several CHUs in operation across the country and this position is in one of two CHUs established for the first time in Texas. The CHU will represent indigent, death-sentenced prisoners in all four federal districts in Texas.


An Assistant Federal Public Defender must be a graduate of an accredited law school, and be a member in good standing of the highest court in the state where licensed, but a Texas bar license is strongly preferred. All applicants must either be (a) admitted to and in good standing with the Texas State Bar, or (b) a member in good standing of another state's bar and be willing to take and able to pass the Texas State Bar examination, if required, within the next two offerings after employment begins and be admitted to the Texas State Bar within two years after employment begins. It is preferred that applicants have capital litigation experience in direct appeal, state post-conviction or federal habeas corpus proceedings. Other related experience may be considered. Applicants must be team-oriented, exhibit strong writing skills and a commitment to criminal defense for those facing the death penalty. Appointment is subject to a satisfactory background investigation, including but not limited to an FBI name and fingerprint check and an IRS tax check.


CHU attorneys represent death-sentenced prisoners in their federal habeas corpus proceedings. CHU attorneys carry a full caseload, representing clients in all stages of their federal court litigation—from investigation, to briefing at all levels of the court system, through oral advocacy, and in clemency proceedings. Regular responsibilities include: working with clients; digesting large case files and investigative materials; developing litigation strategies; drafting pleadings; conducting evidentiary hearings; presenting oral arguments; working with experts and other witnesses; and supervising teams of investigators, mitigation specialists, paralegals, and legal assistants. This position may require work on holidays, evenings, and weekends, as the nature of the cases require. Frequent and extended travel also may be required. Federal public defender attorneys may not engage in the private practice of law.

Selection Criteria: 
The successful applicant will have an established capacity or clearly demonstrated aptitude for excellence in criminal defense practice, a commitment to the representation of indigent accused persons, and a reputation for integrity. Applicants must possess the ability to communicate effectively with clients, witnesses, colleagues, staff, and court and agency personnel as part of their employment. Finally, applicants must also possess skilled collaboration, strategic litigation, compassionate representation, and unique approaches to the issues affecting our clients.
Salary and Benefits: 
The salary of the successful applicant will be commensurate with the person’s qualifications and experience. The position is in the excepted service and does not carry the tenure rights of the competitive Civil Service. The position does offer federal government employee benefits, including health and life insurance programs, retirement, and the Thrift Savings Plan. Salary is payable only by Electronic Funds Transfer (direct deposit).
How to apply: 

Persons may apply by sending a letter of interest (mentioning announcement number 17-13), a résumé, references, and representative writing sample to: Maureen Scott Franco, Federal Public Defender, Western District of Texas, 727 E. César E. Chávez Boulevard, Suite B-207, San Antonio, Texas 78206-1278. No electronically submitted applications will be considered. For applicants with disabilities, this organization provides reasonable accommodations, which are decided on a case-by-case basis. To request a reasonable accommodation for any part of the application or interview process, contact Personnel Administrator, Victoria B. Longoria, at (210) 472-6700. More than one position may be filled from this announcement. Position announced September 15, 2017; open until filled.


The Office of the Federal Public Defender is an Equal Opportunity Employer