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4 Jan 2024

Full-Time Assistant Public Defender – Level IV: Capital Trial Attorney

Kalamazoo Defender – Posted by ewoodfork Kalamazoo, Michigan, United States

Job Description

About Kalamazoo Defender

Kalamazoo Defender provides constitutionally guaranteed representation to adult individuals charged with a crime who cannot afford an attorney. Kalamazoo Defender is an independent non-profit whose model envisions a first-class public defender office for Kalamazoo County that prioritizes maturation of talent, attention to detail, and zealous representation.

To deliver that zealous representation, Kalamazoo Defender incorporates practices from the nation’s most successful public defender offices, including the holistic representation of our clients. Holistic representation means leveraging community services to address the whole client, who is entitled to respect and support as a member of the community. Kalamazoo Defender deploys its holistic care through use of a groundbreaking hub of local services housed within its offices, improving cross-service collaboration and communication.

Not only will this approach promote a criminal justice system that sets up today’s defendant for future success, whether that defendant is guilty or innocent, it will also address the factors that lead a defendant to come before a criminal judge.

In so doing, Kalamazoo Defender will engage in an effort to reduce recidivism in the County and change the way the community thinks about crime and poverty.

For more information on Kalamazoo Defender please visit kalamazoodefender.org

The Opportunity

The Assistant Public Defender will work within a dynamic, innovative legal program, backed by a County capable of maximizing Kalamazoo Defender’s mission. They will be responsible for delivering a holistic approach, engaging with the community, and addressing systemic issues while delivering on their responsibilities.

Their responsibilities will include:
  • Provide court appointed indigent defense services within Kalamazoo County Courts.
  • Carry a felony caseload with supervision from the Chief Public Defender.
  • Review charging instruments, police reports, and other discovery provided by the Prosecution.
  • Promptly meet with clients and learn the client’s goals for the representation and any special needs of the client.
  • Determine what further fact investigation to undertake and employ the services of internal investigators or outside investigators as agreed upon with the Chief Public Defender.
  • Determine what outside expertise is required to understand the case and/or present the best factual case to the Court’s finder of fact.
  • Determine what legal issues need investigation, research accordingly, and present them in the appropriate forum, including interlocutory appeals.
  • Negotiate with the Prosecution and promptly advise the client of the status of those negotiations.
  • Litigate any necessary and appropriate legal issues, including bringing cases to trial.
  • Maintain availability to other staff members for consultation and education; participate in training programs; maintain current knowledge of appropriate support functions.
  • Maintain accurate and complete case files.
  • Participate in, administer, or supervise legal clinics held in community forums.
  • Mentor junior Assistant Public Defenders.
  • Complete special projects and other duties as assigned by the Chief Public Defender.
Candidate Profile

The ideal candidate will have most, if not all, of the following professional and personal qualities, skills, and characteristics:

  • A Juris Doctorate, licensed to practice in the State of Michigan, and in good standing with the State Bar of Michigan.
  • At least seven years of experience as an attorney with five or more years of experience litigating criminal cases, felony criminal trial experience, and experience with complicated and serious offenses.
  • Commitment to the holistic model at the heart of Kalamazoo Defender’s mission.
  • Personal and/or professional experience working with clients from the communities served by Kalamazoo Defender; an understanding of the ways in which racism and systemic barriers put Kalamazoo’s clients at a greater risk of facing charges.
  • Experience in a public defender office and/or a legal aid organization with a similar mission and/or similar case work strongly preferred but not required.
  • Demonstrated record of successfully moving legal cases forward from client intake to investigation and completion.
  • Administrative and supervisory experience strongly preferred.
  • Exemplary interpersonal skills.
About Kalamazoo

Kalamazoo is a mid-sized city that offers both small town charm and big-city perks in one of the most affordable metropolitan areas in the nation. From farmer’s markets that influence a farm-fresh, locally sourced food scene with over 450 restaurants to a vibrant arts scene with 10 theaters, countless music venues, museums and more, Kalamazoo offers a unique range of ways to enjoy the city.

Kalamazoo is located midway between Chicago and Detroit and offers easy access to outdoor recreation opportunities from Lake Michigan beaches at South Haven, the river, and various local lakes to some of the best skiing in the Midwest.

Kalamazoo is the home to Western Michigan University and other institutions of higher education. Through the Kalamazoo Promise, students who graduate from Kalamazoo Public Schools can receive up to 100% of tuition and fees paid for any in-state public community college or university.

Compensation & Benefits

The salary for this position is within the range of $117,000 – $124,874. Benefits include superior health care coverage, generous retirement contributions, and generous paid time off.


Amber Gomes of Koya Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. To express your interest in this role please submit your materials by completing a Talent Profile or email Amber directly at ag****@ko**********.com. Please note that a cover letter is required to complete your application for this position. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

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How to Apply


Job Categories: Equal Opportunities. Job Types: Full-Time. Salaries: 100,000 and above.

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