Assistant Defender for Juvenile Lifer Unit


Job Summary: The Michigan State Appellate Defender Office (SADO) has received continued funding for the Juvenile Lifer Unit, until September 30, 2019 and potentially to be extended as the need remains. SADO represents nearly two-thirds of Michigan’s 360 juvenile lifers currently serving unconstitutional sentences, and is responsible for developing mitigation and litigation strategies for resentencing hearings conducted pursuant to MCL 769.25a and Miller v Alabama, 567 US ___ (2012). SADO seeks an attorney to work collaboratively within Juvenile Lifer Project teams.

Major Areas of Responsibility

  • Develop mitigation evidence and social histories through record retrieval and review, and interviews with clients and others. Attorneys will work with other members of a team, which could include second chair counsel, an investigator, and a mitigation specialist or social worker.
  • Review trial transcripts and appellate decisions of each client’s case, become familiar with the record of the case, and engage in frequent visits with clients housed in prison facilities throughout the state.
  • Determine, evaluate, select and manage expert witnesses and consultants in order to develop mitigation reports and recommendations.
  • Engage in negotiations with prosecutors on a case-by-case basis.
  • Conduct hearings in trial courts throughout Michigan.
  • Develop re-entry plans for clients poised for release.

Required Qualifications

  • Must be admitted to the Michigan Bar or eligible for immediate transfer.
  • Must have a high degree of familiarity with legal issues surrounding juvenile sentencing. Capital case experience is a plus.
  • 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.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Experience in death penalty phase or juvenile lifer resentencing hearings.
  • Experience in both trial and appellate courts.
  • Experience negotiating with prosecutors, preparing mitigation for clients, working with expert witnesses and preparing experts for testimony.

Salary will depend on experience. Attorneys with significant criminal trial experience are encouraged to apply. Position open in SADO’s Detroit or Lansing offices through September 30, 2019. Continuation is possible, depending on future project funding. Fringe benefits include health, dental, 401k, and 12 paid holidays. SADO Assistant Defenders may be eligible for student loan repayment assistance through the John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program: www.michigan.gov/jrj. SADO is an equal opportunity employer.

TO APPLY: Submit a cover letter including office location preference (Detroit or Lansing), resume, writing sample, and a copy of your law school transcripts to:

Wendy Dealca
State Appellate Defender Office
645 Griswold, Ste. 3300
Detroit, MI 48226
Email: wdealca@sado.org
Fax: 313-965-0372

Application deadline: May 25, 2018.