Principal Attorney

The Appellate Investigation Project – Lansing or Detroit Office

The Appellate Investigation Project (AIP) is an innovative federally funded grant project administered by the State Appellate Defender Office (SADO) and the Michigan Appellate Assigned Counsel System (MAACS). The Principal Attorney of the AIP will be responsible for providing litigation support and arranging for fact investigation of post-conviction indigent felony cases assigned to private attorneys on the MAACS roster who would otherwise not have access to these critical services.


Approximately 75% of indigent defendants convicted of felonies in Michigan are represented on appeal by MAACS Roster Attorneys—private attorneys paid directly by the counties to take court-appointed felony appeals. The remaining 25% of indigent defendants are represented by SADO—the only state-funded public defender office in the State. SADO attorneys regularly incorporate appellate investigation into the strategy of an appeal, which has led to notable success and nineteen exonerations in recent years. This success is due in part to SADO’s access to an experienced staff investigator. MAACS attorneys do not have the benefit of a staff investigator, and therefore are presented with significant obstacles in pursuing post-conviction investigation for individual clients. The Appellate Investigation Project seeks to significantly increase the accessibility and availability of investigative services to MAACS attorneys, and to assist MAACS attorneys with developing off-record issues that could lead to a new trial or an exoneration of a previously convicted defendant.


  • Develop and administer screening protocols for determining case eligibility for the project
  • Screen cases for eligibility and write memos justifying approval or denial
  • Work closely with contract investigators and MAACS attorneys-of-record to formulate the investigation and litigation strategy on appeal
  • Assist MAACS attorneys-of-record with litigation, framing legal issues, interacting with expert witnesses, court appearances, and negotiations
  • Work with SADO staff to develop a training program for MAACS attorneys on topics such as: the value of investigations, how to find and work with expert witnesses, how to obtain funding for investigators and experts, and how to frame legal issues and develop the strategy of an appeal
  • Develop additional resources, such as a Post-Conviction Investigation Manual and rule-based record assembly protocols, for appellate attorneys’ use in future cases
  • Track project data to evaluate the impact of the project on appellate defense and case outcomes


Must be a licensed attorney; at least two years of experience with Michigan criminal appeals; familiarity with criminal defense investigations; demonstrated interest in indigent criminal defense work.

This is a temporary full-time position, expiring on September 30, 2018, with potential for continuation. Monthly Salary: $5,800 plus fringe benefits including health, dental, vision, life, 401k, and paid holidays. Must be able to start immediately.

To apply:

Submit a cover letter, resume and writing sample October 16, 2017 to:

Attn: Wendy Dealca
State Appellate Defender Office
645 Griswold, Suite 3300
Detroit, MI 48226

Fax: 313.965.0372

SADO is an equal opportunity employer.