SADO is Hiring a Mitigation Specialist

Applications accepted through September 1, 2020

The State Appellate Defender Office (SADO) is seeking to hire a full-time Mitigation Specialist to assist in legal representation of clients sentenced to life without parole as juveniles, who are now eligible for resentencing.

SADO is Michigan’s award-winning, statewide, indigent appellate defense provider. SADO represents indigent clients on appeal of their criminal convictions and other post-conviction proceedings, including Michigan’s “juvenile lifers.” Mitigation Specialists are a crucial part of the defense team and work with attorneys and clients to develop strategy for new sentencing hearings. The Mitigation Specialist will perform a variety of functions with the end goal of improving sentencing outcomes for clients.

SADO’s Juvenile Lifer Unit represents individuals who were unconstitutionally sentenced to life without parole for crimes they committed as children and who are now entitled to new sentences and eligible for an opportunity for release. These resentencing proceedings, which generally occur years after the conviction of the client, require intensive long-term mitigation investigation, and culminate in complex resentencing hearings.

The Juvenile Lifer Unit is funded year to year by the State, with funding expected to continue. This posting is for one or more positions, contingent on continued funding.

Specific duties may include, but are not limited to:

  • Travel to correctional institutions to visit with incarcerated clients to learn about their background, the facts of the offense, current experiences while incarcerated, and specific needs upon release (due to COVID-19, videoconferencing is temporarily replacing most in-person visits);
  • Interview family, friends, community members, and other individuals to compile material in mitigation of sentence;
  • Counsel clients on reentry strategy and availability of social service and reentry programs;
  • Research and help implement available social services for clients who have an opportunity for a new sentence that could include community placement;
  • Network and collaborate with probation officers, Department of Corrections professionals, various public and private reentry projects, circuit courts, and social services organizations;
  • Obtain, analyze and summarize records and documents, including prison records, social files, school records, and medical and mental health records;
  • Prepare reports, including client and witness interview memos, social history reports and sentencing memoranda;
  • Identify and consult with appropriate experts to obtain reports and prepare for hearings;
  • Prepare clients for testifying in court or presenting allocution;
  • Testify in court;
  • Train attorneys and staff on mitigation and parole hearings.


  • Commitment to client-centered, zealous advocacy;
  • Commitment to the inherent worth and dignity of clients;
  • Commitment to cultural humility and cultural competency;
  • Education in social work, social science, psychology, forensic psychology, journalism, anthropology, criminal justice, or a related field;
  • Knowledge of the criminal justice system, preferably in Michigan;
  • Experience in investigation;
  • Excellent communication, interviewing, and interpersonal skills;
  • The ability to prioritize a significant workload and high-volume caseload;
  • Ability to work flexible hours, including evenings, nights, and early mornings, and to travel throughout the state to attend hearings, meet with incarcerated clients, interview witnesses, and obtain mitigation material;
  • Outstanding writing and organizational skills;
  • Flexible and creative thinking;
  • The ability to work as part of the defense team under the lead of the case attorney, and maintain confidentiality;
  • Proficiency with Microsoft Word and Outlook, Adobe Acrobat, Excel, and general office equipment.

SADO offers training and mentoring, and fosters an environment of success and support. With offices in Detroit and Lansing, SADO’s fifty-plus staff members form a community advocating for clients and a fair criminal justice system. Additionally, SADO provides the ability to work remotely as needed. Visit to learn more.

Salary will depend on experience and qualifications The salary range is $44,000 to $68,000. The expected start date for the position is October 5th, and includes health, dental, vision, 401k/457 plans, twelve paid holidays, paid parental leave, three weeks of vacation during the first year, training, and a flexible work environment.

TO APPLY: Submit a resume and a cover letter. The cover letter should address the reasons underlying your interest in the work of the Juvenile Lifer Unit, and explain your commitment to working with incarcerated people and people convicted of crimes.

Applications should be submitted via email only by September 1, 2020, to:

Attn: Wendy Dealca
State Appellate Defender Office
645 Griswold, Ste 3300
Detroit, MI 48226
Email: Fax: 313-965-0372

SADO is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to diversity in the workplace. People of color, women, LGBTQ people, veterans, people with disabilities, and individuals with past involvement in the justice system are strongly encouraged to apply. Felony conviction is not a bar to employment.