Federal Public Defender, Southern District of Ohio

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Job location
10 W. Broad St., Suite 1020
Columbus, OH 43215
United States
Organization information
Organization name: 
Federal Public Defender, Southern District of Ohio
Street address: 
10 W. Broad St., Suite 1020
Job type: 
Legal - Defender
Position Description: 

The Federal Public Defender, Southern District of Ohio, is accepting applications for the position of Investigator/Mitigation Specialist in the Capital Habeas Unit, to be stationed in the Columbus office. Our mission is to provide our clients with legal services of the highest quality. We zealously and ethically represent the human worth, dignity, and interest of our clients with courage, devotion, and uncompromised advocacy.

The Federal Public Defender, a branch of the U.S. Courts, operates under the authority of the Criminal Justice Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3006A, to provide defense services to indigent persons in federal criminal cases and related matters in the federal courts. The Capital Habeas Unit is a specialized unit within the Federal Public Defender’s office that represents people who have been convicted in state court and sentenced to death, and who are now seeking to overturn their conviction or sentence in federal court based on violations of the United States Constitution. Our work involves reinvestigating cases that are often over 10 years old, to vindicate violations of our client’s constitutional rights during their state court proceedings, with respect to both the conviction and the death sentence.

We are seeking applicants from all backgrounds to ensure that we get the best and most creative talent on our team. We want to create a diverse work culture to bring unique perspectives to our cases and best represent our clients.

Duties: The Investigator/Mitigation Specialist will be a part of a team of attorneys, paralegals, and investigators representing clients on death row in federal post-conviction proceedings. The Mitigation Specialist/Investigator is responsible for creating investigation plans and overseeing both the fact investigation and mitigation investigation for the cases to which they are assigned. Day to day duties include, but are not limited to, locating and interviewing witnesses, reading discovery to identify potential investigation, building relationships with clients and their families, locating and supervising expert witnesses, serving subpoenas, drafting reports, drafting social histories, reviewing and summarizing case records, visiting crime scenes, and locating and retrieving documents and other evidence.


Most importantly, this position requires a strong passion for helping those in need and the ability to form connections with our clients, with their families, and with witnesses. A successful candidate will have strong written, oral, and interpersonal communication skills. They will be motivated, creative, resourceful, and able to work with different types of people and personalities with tact, discretion, and compassion. They will also have the ability to work well with others in a team-based approach. Fluency in a foreign language and experience with different cultures is a strong plus.

We are seeking candidates with experience investigating crimes, alternative suspects, social histories, intellectual disabilities, and/or mental illness. The ideal candidate will have experience locating people, interviewing people, and drafting reports, as well as experience conducting both fact investigation interviews and mitigation investigation interviews. Experience in post-conviction or capital investigation is a plus. Criminal defense experience is helpful but not required. If you do not have criminal defense experience, please explain why you are now interested in working in criminal defense.

Applicants must have at least an Associate’s degree. Degrees in Social Work and Criminal Justice are advantageous, but we are open to applicants from a variety of different disciplines. Significant investigation experience could be substituted for a degree where appropriate. A reliable vehicle and a valid driver’s license is required, as travel, including overnight travel, will be necessary. In addition to travel, this position will require some evening and weekend work.

To apply: 

Salary and Benefits: Starting salary will be commensurate with the experience and qualifications of the applicant. This position is excepted service and does not carry the tenure rights of the competitive Civil Service. The position does offer federal government employment benefits including health and life insurance, retirement and the Thrift Savings Plan. Salary is payable only by Electronic Funds Transfer (direct deposit).

Conditions of Employment: All application information is subject to verification. Appointment to the position is contingent upon a background investigation including an FBI fingerprint check. Employees of the Federal Defender are members of the judicial branch of government; they are considered ‘at will’ and can be terminated with or without cause.

Application Information: Qualified applicants should submit a resume and three professional references. Applicants also must include a cover letter explaining why they are interested in this type of work and how their professional and/or life experiences qualify them to succeed in this position. Applicants are also encouraged to submit a writing sample. All materials should be submitted in PDF format, to [email protected]. In your application, please feel free to note which pronouns you use. This position will be open until filled.

The Federal Public Defender, Southern District of Ohio (FPD) is an equal opportunity employer. We strongly encourage people of color, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and non-binary people, veterans, parents, and individuals with disabilities to apply. The FPD provides reasonable accommodations to applicants with disabilities. The decision on granting reasonable accommodations will be made on a case-by-case basis.