Mitigation Specialist

The Office of Capital & Forensic Writs (OCFW) is a small, close-knit public defender office in Austin, Texas that represents persons sentenced to death in state post-conviction proceedings. Our office is hiring a mitigation specialist to work as part of a legal team to develop constitutional claims on behalf of our clients. Our team members all work towards the common goal of serving our clients’ best interests. Together with the rest of the client’s legal team, the mitigation specialist helps to tell the client’s story, humanize him or her to the court, and provide support for legal claims that might entitle the client to relief. Salary will depend on experience. Ideally, the candidate hired for this position will be able to start as soon as possible, and no later than January 1, 2022.

Although this work can be difficult, we consider ourselves fortunate to work alongside compassionate, dedicated, and collaborative colleagues to provide the best possible representation to our clients.  Because we know our clients benefit when their advocates have a wide and diverse range of professional and life experiences, our office is strongly invested in having persons of color and individuals from non-traditional backgrounds represented.  

The OCFW provides client-centered and excellent post-conviction representation. We follow the ABA Guidelines for the Appointment and Performance of Defense Counsel in Death Penalty Cases (2003), the State Bar of Texas Guidelines and Standards for Texas Capital Counsel (2006), and the Supplementary Guidelines and Standards for the Mitigation Function of Defense Teams in Texas Death Penalty Cases (2015).

OCFW Mitigation Specialist Job Description:

  • Identifying and locating witnesses, and travelling across the state and country to interview them in their homes. Witnesses include complaining witnesses, law enforcement and eyewitnesses, the client’s friends, family, teachers, neighbors, coworkers, etc. Depending on the needs of a case, mitigation specialists may perform both mitigation and culpability investigation. 
  • Conducting a culturally competent social history investigation by establishing on-going relationships with the client and family, and interviewing witnesses who are knowledgeable about the client at every phase of his or her life, and maintaining a close relationship based on trust and rapport with multiple clients. Our clients are usually housed at the Polunsky Unit prison in Livingston, Texas. Each member of the team visits clients frequently.
  • Gathering and analyzing relevant records and anecdotes to develop information concerning the circumstances of the alleged crime and the client’s life history. From the information we gather, mitigation specialists draft memos, construct timelines, and assist in drafting the social history narrative of the client’s life and family history.
  • Working independently by managing the competing priorities and deadlines of multiple cases. Mitigation Specialists create and implement their own investigation plans after consulting with the case team members.
  • Working as a member and facilitating the success of interdisciplinary teams of multiple attorneys, other mitigation specialists, supervisors, and experts. As a full member of each client’s case team, the mitigation specialists collaborate in developing theories of the case and case strategies and providing litigation support to the team.

Minimum Qualifications*:

  • College degree;
  • An organized and precise work practice with attention to detail and accuracy;
  • A demonstrated commitment to the representation of death-sentenced persons, and persons from marginalized communities;
  • Excellent written and oral communication;
  • Highly developed interpersonal and collaboration skills;
  • Experience working with people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, and an awareness of the issues that must be overcome to successfully work with people who have life experiences you do not share.

*If there is a minimum qualification that you do not meet, but you believe that your combined background, life, professional, and/or educational experience prepares you for success in this job, you may apply and explain in your cover letter why you believe so.

Preferred Qualifications:               

  • Bilingual in Spanish and English;
  • Capital defense investigation experience;
  • Experience working in a legal office that serves indigent communities;
  • Degree or post-graduate study in a relevant field (g., cultural anthropology, psychology, sociology, African American or Latin American studies, public health, ethnography, law, social work, English, history, communications, or another field involving qualitative research);
  • Familiarity or experience with identifying mental health symptoms, trauma, intellectual disabilities, forensic sciences, and/or issues of race, ethnicity and poverty within the criminal justice system or elsewhere.

Employment Conditions:

  •  A valid drivers license, and the willingness to operate a motor vehicle for client-representation purposes.
  • Ability and willingness to travel throughout Texas, out of state, and on occasion, out of the country for client-representation purposes. The person hired for this position should expect to regularly travel 50% of the time weekly on case work.
  • Ability to operate standard office equipment and software.

Additional Details:

Posting Date:

October 21, 2021

Closing Date:

Until Filled (Priority application deadline: November 5, 2021

Job Listing:

215-22-01

Location:

Austin, Texas

State Classification:

Investigator IV-VI

FLSA Status:

Exempt

Salary Range

$55,000 to $80,000 (depending on experience and qualifications)

Type of Job:

Full time, some weekends are required.

Travel Required:

Yes (50%)

Other:

This position is funded through October 2023 by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

How to Apply:

To apply for this position, send: (1) a letter of interest; (2) a resume; (3) a list of references; (4) the mandated State of Texas Application for Employment to: hiring@ocfw.texas.gov.

State applications are available at:

https://twc.texas.gov/files/jobseekers/texas-application-employment-twc.pdf.

Veterans, Reservist or Guardsmen with an MOS or additional duties that fall in the fields of 27A, 27B, 250X, LGL10, 04, 4402, 51JX, or other related fields pertaining to the minimum experience requirements may meet the minimum qualifications. Additional Military Crosswalk information can be accessed at:     http://www.hr.sao.state.tx.us/Compensation/MilitaryCrosswalk/MOSC_Legal.pdf.

 

The Office of Capital & Forensic Writs is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, sex, religion, age or disability in employment or the provision of services. In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, any request for reasonable accommodations needed during the application process should be communicated by the applicant to Sandra Justice, the Office of Capital & Forensic Writs Senior Accountant, at (512) 463-8520.



Updated Friday, October 22, 2021