Skip to main content

You are here

CHU Research and Writing Specialist 22-03 Austin, Texas

CHU Research and Writing Specialist
Job Location: 
Austin, Texas
Date Posted: 
Friday, October 29, 2021

The Federal Public Defenderfor the Western District of Texas is accepting applications for a research and writing specialist for its Capital Habeas Unit (CHU) in Austin, Texas. The Capital Habeas Unit (CHU) represents indigent, death-sentenced Texas prisoners in federal habeas corpus proceedings in the four United States District Courts in Texas, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and the United States Supreme Court.


The research and writing specialist position is an attorney position. Applicants must be: (1) a graduate of an accredited law school; and (2) admitted to practice in good standing before the highest court of a state. At least three years of specialized experience is preferred. Appointment is subject to a satisfactory background investigation, including but not limited to an FBI name and fingerprint check. 


A research and writing specialist has the following duties: (1) advanced legal research and writing related to pleading and litigating claims for federal habeas corpus relief; (2) review and analysis of records and other collaborative assistance to attorneys, mitigation specialists, investigators, and experts working in and with the CHU; (3) close and regular contact with clients; field work, including gathering records and conducting investigations. A research and writing specialist is required to stay up to date on the latest developments in habeas corpus and criminal procedure, and issues in forensic science and mental health that are relevant to the CHU’s cases. The research and writing specialist is not an assistant federal public defender and does not ordinarily sign pleadings or make court appearances. The position requires travel.  If not licensed in Texas at the time of hiring, the research and writing specialist must become licensed in Texas within two years of employment.

Selection Criteria: 
The successful applicant for research and writing specialist will have an established commitment to, and a clearly demonstrated aptitude for, excellence in criminal defense practice, including indigent representation, and a reputation for integrity. The successful applicant will have strong legal research and word processing skills, can analyze complex legal issues, and will write clearly and concisely. Applicants also must possess the ability to communicate effectively with clients, witnesses, colleagues, and court and agency personnel; be able to work effectively in a team-based environment; possess strong oral and interpersonal skills; and be able to work independently and set priorities to meet critical deadlines; and be committed to providing the highest quality representation to indigent prisoners. Appellate writing experience or experience in handling capital cases is preferred. Fluency in Spanish is a plus.
Salary and Benefits: 
The starting salary for a research and writing specialist falls within a range of $65,887 (JSP-11, Step 1) to $130,531 (JSP-15, Step 1) per annum. 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 offers federal government employment benefits, including participation in health and life insurance, retirement, and the Thrift Savings Plan. Salary is payable only by Electronic Funds Transfer (direct deposit).
How to apply: 

Qualified persons may apply by forwarding a letter of interest (mentioning announcement number 22-03), résumé, and representative writing sample. Legal experience should be described. Send completed application to:  Maureen Scott Franco, Federal Public Defender, Western District of Texas, 504 Lavaca St., Suite 960, Austin, Texas 78701-2860, or you may submit your letter of interest and resume in a single PDF document by email to The document should be named: “Announcement number, position title, last name, first name” (e.g., 22-03 CHU RAWS, Smith, John). Electronic submissions sent directly to the Defender will not be considered. For applicants with disabilities, this organization provides reasonable accommodations, which are determined case-by-case. To request a reasonable accommodation for any part of the application or interview process, contact personnel administrator Victoria B. Longoria at (210) 981-2081. More than one position may be filled from this announcement. Position announced October 29, 2021, subject to the availability of funds; open until filled.


The Federal Public Defender is an equal-opportunity employer.