SADO Hiring Special Assistant Defender

Two Year Position Available in Wrongful Conviction Unit
State Appellate Defender Office (SADO) Wrongful Conviction Unit, funded by the Department of Justice. SADO attorneys represent 25% of indigent clients in Michigan on direct appeal or other post-conviction proceedings who wish to challenge their guilty pleas, trial convictions, or sentences.

During the direct appeal, Michigan Court Rules allow for evidentiary hearings on issues implicating actual innocence, including ineffective assistance of counsel, discovery violations, and newly discovered evidence. Unfortunately, these rules have strict time limits. SADO’s Wrongful Conviction Unit is an attempt to respond to this dynamic.

The Wrongful Conviction Unit Special Assistant Defender will immediately review appellate intake to look for clients with common indicia of wrongful conviction, including unreliable identifications, questionable confessions, and reliance on “junk science.” Following identification of appropriate clients, the Special Assistant Defender will work with SADO’s Chief Investigator and a supervising attorney to investigate the case, prepare for, and litigate an evidentiary hearing and potential appeal.

In addition, the 2008 closure of the Detroit Crime Lab due to unreliable ballistics evidence prompted a review of over one thousand convictions by SADO. SADO attorneys received the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan “Justice for All” award for this review. This work is mostly complete, but the Wrongful Conviction Unit Special Assistant Defender will complete review and litigation for a few outstanding clients.

Since the Wrongful Conviction Unit started operating at SADO, immediate prescreening of cases has achieved exonerations of two actually innocent clients, while the Detroit Crime Lab review has resulted in new trials for five clients convicted in part by unreliable forensic evidence.

Representation requires travel throughout Michigan to interview incarcerated clients, assist on investigations, and advocate in circuit and appellate courts. Applicants must have the ability to shine in these areas:

    A “streetwise” instinct beyond the law for the facts surrounding a conviction
    Legal research and writing
    Trial and appellate court advocacy

A demonstrated commitment to indigent defense, public service, and clerkship experience are preferred. Qualified candidates must be licensed to practice in Michigan or another jurisdiction and must have strong computer skills in MS Word and Adobe.

Non-renewable two-year position starting early 2015. Salary: $55k. Fringe benefits include health, dental, 401k, and 12 paid holidays.

For consideration, please submit a cover letter, resume, writing sample, and a copy of your law school transcripts by November 24, 2014 to:

Wendy Schaub
State Appellate Defender Office
645 Griswold, Ste 3300
Detroit, MI 48226
Fax: 313.965.0372

SADO is an equal opportunity employer.