Attorney--Juvenile Lifer Project

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Job location
1441 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102
United States
Organization information
Organization name: 
Defender Association of Philadelphia
Street address: 
1441 Sansom Street
Job type: 
Legal - Defender
Position Description: 

Job Code:
FLSA Status: Exempt
EEO-1 Code: 23-1011 Professionals
Salary Grade:
Division/Department: Juvenile Lifer Project
Reports to: Chiefs of Juvenile Lifer Project
Direct Reports: N/A

Job Summary

The Defender Association‘s Juvenile Lifer Project has been funded by the City of Philadelphia as part of a three (3) year special project to resolve the Philadelphia Juvenile Lifer cases. The Juvenile Lifer Project will represent 225 of approximately 300 juvenile lifers currently serving unconstitutional sentences, and will be responsible for assuring private counsel are trained and appointed to represent the remaining cases.

Major Areas of Responsibility
• The Project includes funding for two (2) mitigation experts in the first year---more in subsequent years. Attorneys will be required to develop much of the mitigation evidence themselves, working closely with our mitigation experts. Attorneys will need to meet with and interview all witnesses including family members, friends, and service providers (i.e., medical, psychological, educational, spiritual, etc.) of clients as well as examine various records and documents to develop complete and thorough social histories for their clients.

•Attorneys will need to determine, evaluate, select and manage expert witnesses and consultants in order to develop mitigation reports and recommendations. The management of expert witnesses and consultants will include but not be limited to coordination of client evaluations at the prison (or arrange for transfer of client to prison within reach of chosen expert/consultant); provide documentation needed by expert/consultant; request and review applicable reports; and all litigation preparation.

•Review case files at Office of District Attorney or other relevant location.

•Review trial transcripts and appellate decisions to understand and present mitigating factors in underlying case.

Re-entry Planning
•Attorneys will be involved in re-entry planning for clients including coordination efforts, preparing and providing social and family history information, as appropriate, to outside agency/agents with primary responsibility for re-entry.

•This position may require up to approximately 25% travel including travel to prisons where clients are housed as well as overnight stays, often for several nights in a row.


Education: B.A. or B.S. Degree, required; J.D. required. Law License Required: Barred in Pennsylvania; or, must have been barred and practicing in another jurisdiction for at least five (5) of the last seven (7) years In order to be admitted by reciprocity, or and be willing to sit for the PA Bar within six (6) months.

•High degree of familiarity with homicide representation is preferred. At a minimum the applicant should have five years of criminal litigation experience and have served as lead or co-counsel on 8 significant cases that were given to the jury for deliberation; or, 8 significant cases in an appellate or post-conviction court. See Rule 801, Pa. R. Cr. P.
•Experience with and ability/willingness to engage in negotiations with homicide prosecutors.
•Experience in the preparation of penalty phase hearings in a homicide case is preferred.
•Ability to identify and gather necessary records, willingness to travel state-wide to locate and review existing records, as required. Ability as well as interest in the collection of family and social history information.
•Experience preparing full social histories for homicide clients.
•Experience working with expert witnesses including the preparation and presentation of expert witnesses for testimony.
•Many of the issues regarding the structure, burdens and presumptions regarding the resentencing of juvenile lifers have yet to be determined. Therefore, an applicant must not be unsettled by such ambiguity, and must be willing to develop and litigate new and creative issues in the trial court and/or handle the appeal of such issues.

To apply: 

Send cover letter and resume to: Sherri Darden, Defender Association of Philadelphia, 1441 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, Pa, 19102; or email to [email protected].

The Defender Association provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetics. In addition to federal law requirements, The Defender Association complies with applicable state and local laws governing nondiscrimination in employment. This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including recruiting, hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leaves of absence, compensation and training.
Submission deadline: 
Wednesday, May 18, 2016