Closing Date: 15th August, 2022
Note: Applicants must attach curriculum vitae or resume, cover letter, references, disciplinary history from SBOT (State Bar of Texas) and any other state licensed to practice law, and authorization for criminal background check.
Under the direction of the Public Defender Oversight Board, the Chief Public Defender is responsible for the over-all and day-to-day operation of the office. The Chief will manage the office and oversee at least eight (8) additional staff attorneys in defending indigent and possibly mentally ill persons defendants facing misdemeanor and felony criminal charges. Performs professional, management, supervisory and legal services, including leading and counseling staff attorneys and support staff, and acting as lead counsel on the most difficult and challenging cases. Has vision for a successful public defender's office with proposed plans and goals.
The employee is required to be on duty before, during, and after natural disasters and emergencies, as directed.
Essential Duties and Responsibilities
Include the following.
- Supervise, coordinate, advise and oversee the work of staff attorneys in felony and misdemeanor cases.
- Chief will have a small caseload not exceeding 10 percent of all cases. Chief will be willing to help try cases when needed or assist in trial work and/or handle major or high-profile cases.
- Develop and implement legal and departmental policy and procedural guidelines, subject to general policy direction from the Public Defender Oversight Board.
- Allocate personnel and resources and assign cases to staff attorneys.
- Manage all human resource issues and ensure compliance with all applicable rules, laws and regulations.
- Establish operational goals, objectives, policies and procedures.
- Authorize, review, and approve office payroll.
- Prepare and submit full cost accountings, budgets, administrative reports and grant documentation.
- Plan and present mandated continuing legal education (MCLE) training programs in-house and to private assigned counsel.
- Act as liaison with other criminal justice agencies or public organizations.
- Research, study, and implement programs supporting defendants with mental health issues.
- Report to Public Defender Oversight Board.
Directs the activities of public defenders. Carries out supervisory responsibilities in accordance with Nueces County policies and applicable laws. Responsibilities include interviewing, hiring, and training employees; planning, assigning, and directing work; appraising performance; rewarding and disciplining employees; addressing complaints and resolving problems.
Education And/Or Experience
Juris Doctor degree from an accredited law school and ten years of work experience involving criminal representation and trial services, and experience in leading, coordinating, and/or supervising professional staff. Plus, five years of experience as a supervising attorney, training director, division director, or other managerial role in a public defender office; or if no public defender’s office was available, experience in indigent defense and training others in a comparable setting.
Certificates, Licenses, Registrations
License from the Texas State Bar to practice law in the State of Texas. Current active, good standing membership in the State Bar of Texas (SBOT) or ability to waive into the State Bar of Texas by January 1, 2023. Valid Texas driver’s License. Attorneys use their own private vehicle and not a county car.
Knowledge, Skills And Abilities
- Skilled trial attorney, with a minimum of ten criminal felony jury trials taken to verdict as first-chair (at least three of which were first degree felonies), two felony criminal appeals taken to mandate, and one writ to the Court of Criminal Appeals or equivalent if waiving in to practice in Texas.
- Ability to mentor or teach newer attorneys, create or promote continuing legal education, and promotion of education and promote creativity in criminal defense.
- Ability to train and/or supervise criminal defense attorneys on use of defense resources including social workers, experts, and investigators.
- Ability to develop and implement a substantial budget.
- Ability to use data to improve office operations of public policy.
- Familiarity with and commitment to implementing national public defense best practices.
- A deep commitment to the representation of justice-involved individuals with mental health challenges, and a desire to collaborate with and build consensus among community stakeholders for treatment-based alternatives to incarceration. An understanding of the need for education of the community, law enforcement, the District Attorney, staff and the Judges on mental health cases and the desire to promote treatment on appropriate cases and work as a team to get help for those who are in need.
- The ability to coordinate and work with elected officials, community organizations, law enforcement, prosecutors and other attorneys and willingness to become a resource for mental health cases.
- Demonstrated commitment and experience working with low-income clients, a proven record of caring about the individuals one represents, and an understanding and commitment to respect and understanding of their different backgrounds, income levels, diversity, cultural differences.
- Knowledge of the criminal justice system and a desire to improve it in Nueces County.
- A commitment to educating the public on mental health awareness, mental health treatment, and outreach, as well as knowledge of drug/alcohol dependency in those with mental health issues and understanding of cases involving self-medication.
- Ability to collaborate with non-lawyer defense staff including social workers, investigators, and other legal advocates.
- Ability to work with immigration attorneys advising on criminal cases.