Chief Public Defender

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Job location
722 Moody Ave
Galveston, TX 77550
United States
Organization information
Organization name: 
Misdemeanor Mental Health Public Defender Office
Street address: 
722 Moody Ave
Job type: 
Legal - Defender
Position Description: 

The Galveston County Misdemeanor Mental Health Public Defender Office (GCMMHPDO) is a recognized public defender office, funded in part by the Texas Indigent Defense Commission (TIDC).

GCMMHPDO will represent defendants charged with a class A or B misdemeanor and diagnosed with a serious mental illness (SMI). Defendants will also be provided representation at either Tx.C.C.P Art. 17.032 or other bond hearings.

Job Summary:
The Chief Public Defender is the top defense attorney for GCMMHPDO who directs the office that provides representation to clients diagnosed with a serious mental illness in Class A and B misdemeanor cases. Participates in planning programs, policies, procedures and objectives for the county department and plans for future development. Provides legal representation for, or ensures mental health clients are represented in criminal proceedings, and ensures their constitutional rights are upheld. Serves as lead counsel. Oversees and participates in preparation, presentation and disposition of cases. The Chief Public Defender is a full-time position solely dedicated to working and providing the service of the GCMMHPDO. Outside legal or an alternative dispute resolution practice will not be permitted in this position.

Supervises: 2 attorneys
1 Licensed Clinical Social Worker
2 Caseworkers
1 Support Staff
Job Responsibilities

Ensures the functions and services of the Public Defender’s Office are provided in accordance with the requirements of both the State and Federal Constitution, State and Federal Law, and State Bar of Texas ethical rules.
Oversees and provides representation of defendants with serious mental illness that are charged with Class A & B misdemeanor cases, to include both jury and non-jury matters, mental health personal bonds, and competency proceedings.
Plans and participates in development and implementation of policies, procedures and programs. Ensures activities are consistent with goals and objectives of the Program. Directs efforts to develop and improve day-to-day operations, work processes and customer service.
Directs, plans, manages and supervises professional and support personnel. Allocates resources for services, equipment, facilities and finances. Plans for future services and budgetary needs of the office.
Provides administrative oversight for the attorneys and other staff within the department, including hiring, performance evaluation, disciplinary actions and dismissals.
Prepares, monitors, and updates the procedure or operations manual for the GCMMHPDO.
Supervises planning, development, preparation, and monitoring of annual budget, grant funding and statistical reports.
Performs advanced legal work, including research, case preparation and Court appearances, as lead counsel on selected cases, including cases of particular difficulty or sensitivity.
Directs and advises the department’s legal staff on issues of law and the disposition of cases. Resolves problem case negotiations.
Develops and maintains good working relationships with the judges of assigned courts while continuing to act as a vigorous advocate for the rights of clients being represented.
Meets with judges regarding Court administration of the indigent mental health caseloads.
Makes presentations to social and civic groups, incarcerated persons, and other organizations to explain, publicize, and promote the public defender program.
Represents the Public Defender Office in appropriate public and professional meetings and conferences; in interactions with state, county, and municipal officials; county and state bar associations; and citizen groups.
Reports regularly to the GCMMHPDO Oversight Board and Galveston County Commissioners Court as requested.
Performs other duties as assigned.

NOTE: The duties listed above are intended only as illustrations of the various types of work that may be performed. The omission of specific statements of duties does not exclude them from the position if the work is similar, related, or a logical assignment to the position.


Requires graduation from an accredited Law School with the attainment of a Doctor of Jurisprudence.

Special Certifications and Licenses:

Admitted and licensed to practice law in the State of Texas or immediately eligible to obtain licensure through the Texas Board of Law Examiners Admission Without Examination (AWOX) process. (Applicants must review the TBLE AWOX requirements:

Licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas preferred.

Must be a member in good standing with the State Bar of Texas (or the State Bar of current residency) without adverse disciplinary history and MCLE compliant.

Experience and Knowledge:

7 or more years practicing criminal law, with substantial experience representing persons diagnosed with a mental illness.
Minimum of three years of mid-to-senior level supervisory or management experience, including direct supervision of criminal defense attorneys.
Experience with cases in felony and misdemeanor courts, including as lead counsel on felony and misdemeanor criminal jury trials to a verdict, and incompetent to stand trial proceedings.
Experience working with social workers as part of a defense team.
Experience developing legal trainings.
Experience with developing and implementing organizational budgets.
Preferred experience leading or helping to lead a public defender office.
Knowledge of the philosophy and practices of public defense.
Knowledge of policies, practices, procedures and legal terminology related to Court system.

Skills and Abilities:

Advanced research and writing skills, including trial advocacy and legal research.
Strong verbal and written communication skills.
Supervisory, management, budgeting, and organizational skills including allocating resources and evaluating programs.
Strong problem solving and decision-making skills.
Strong interpersonal skills, and ability to deal effectively with the public, other employees, and elected officials.
Must have high degree of case evaluation and advocacy skills, and expertise in representing defendants with mental illness in misdemeanor and felony criminal cases.
Advanced knowledge of the rules of evidence, case law, Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure, mental health law, and the treatment of mental illness.
Computer equipment to include word processing, spreadsheets, databases and a variety of software packages.
Business letter writing, proper grammar and punctuation, and report preparation.
Motivate, train, supervise and develop attorneys and support staff.
Conduct legal research and analysis, both manually and electronically.
Present facts, precedents and arguments verbally and in writing and apply negotiation skills.
Work independently and efficiently.
Manage time well, perform multiple tasks and organize diverse activities.
Work well under pressure and exercise tact in trying situations.


The Chief Public Defender is expected to either reside or relocate to Galveston County within six months of date of hire unless extended or waived by the GCMMHPDO Oversight Board.

Essential Behavioral Expectations:

GCMMHPDO employees are expected to use professional courtesy, discretion, and sound judgment when engaging in any contact with clients, coworkers, customers, vendors, visitors, or other employees.
Employees are also responsible for, but not limited to, the following behavioral expectations: maintaining confidentiality of client information, business knowledge, and employee information; maintaining professional relations while engaging in job-related tasks; cooperating with others to resolve conflict and achieve goals; and maintaining a pleasant attitude.


Routine contact as needed with clients, victims, police, prosecutors, judges, coworkers, department employees, the public, and elected officials, in person or on the telephone to negotiate, persuade, or exchange information.
Instructs and makes presentations as applicable.

Physical Demands:

Daily use of hands or fingers to grasp, handle, pick-up, or type.
Daily standing, walking, sitting, talking and listening.
Frequent reaching with hands or arms.
Occasional lifting of objects up to 40 pounds, climbing or balancing, stooping, crouching or kneeling. Close vision and ability to adjust focus.

Work Environment:

Work is performed primarily in a climate-controlled office or courtroom. Provides 24-hour on-call assistance to county officials and law enforcement officials.
Meeting with clients in jail, as necessary. Noise level is generally quiet.

Americans with Disabilities Act Compliance (ADA):

Physical demands and work environment characteristics described are representative of those that must be met or are encountered by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations will be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

Galveston County is an Equal Opportunity Employer. ADA requires Galveston County to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified persons with disabilities. Prospective and current employees are encouraged to discuss ADA accommodations with management.

The job description does not constitute an employment agreement between the employer and employee and is subject to change by the employer as the needs of the employer and requirements of the job change.

Equal Opportunity Employer
Salary range: 
$113,000.00 Annually
Submission deadline: 
Monday, November 30, 2020