Capital Area Private Defender Service

We are currently seeking:

 Holistic Defense Supervisor
Legal director of the Forensic Project

Holistic Defense Supervisor

Part of the mission of the Capital Area Private Defender Service (CAPDS) is to enhance the resources available to defense counsel to help them provide a quality defense. We are seeking an attorney with experience utilizing investigators, social workers, and immigration attorneys to assist in the implementation of the holistic defense grant. The attorney will assist in the training and supervision of our holistic and mentoring programs and assist panel attorneys in the use of a team defense.

The attorney’s primary responsibility will be assisting in elevating the quality of representation through holistic defense. The attorney will be responsible for ensuring that investigative services are used appropriately and that the investigators are kept to the highest legal and ethical standards. The forensic social work program will include training attorneys on the effective use of pre-pleading reports, mitigation, and jail diversion as a way of positively affecting the outcome of a criminal case. The attorney will also work in partnership with the immigration attorney to ensure assigned counsel utilize this resource effectively, including prompt referrals, gathering of client information for the immigration attorney, and ensuring that Padilla assistance is delivered effectively. 


  • Licensed attorney in the State of Texas, or the ability to waive into the Texas Bar;
  • Minimum five years criminal defense experience preferred;
  • Lead counsel for cases that utilized a team based defense including the use of an investigator and/or social worker (5 trials preferred);
  • Experience training and/or supervising criminal defense attorneys;
  • Experience working with investigators on complex cases, including investigators who do not necessarily have a law-enforcement background;
  • Experience working with social workers on criminal defense cases;
  • Experience working with immigration attorneys advising on criminal cases;
  • Demonstrated commitment to indigent defense required;
  • Knowledge, understanding, and experience with client-centered representation;
  • Familiar with national indigent defense best practice standards.


  • Participation in formal training programs for institutional defender office or managed assigned counsel program that is based on client-centered representation;
  • Experience training and supervising investigators, or working with investigators trained in national best practices;
  • Experience working with forensic social workers to prepare pre-pleading memorandums, jail diversion programs, or to identify mitigation in felony cases;
  • Familiarity with Padilla and using immigration attorney as resource;
  • Experience screening attorney referrals for investigation, social worker, or immigration assistance to evaluate the legal necessity for the use of the resources:
  • Fluency in legal Spanish written and oral communication.

Job Duties:

  • Primary function will be to assist with training attorneys on use and value of holistic representation;
  • Provide on-site individual training to investigators, social workers, and immigration attorney;
  • Assist in group trainings for investigators, social workers, and attorneys;
  • Assist in training attorneys in proper use of social workers, investigators, and immigration resources both individually and in formal trainings;
  • Evaluate and oversee the work of investigators, social workers, and immigration attorney;
  • Review request for investigations, social workers, and immigration service to determine when service are reasonable and necessary for the effective representation of clients;
  • Manage referral process for investigations, social workers, and immigration attorney;
  • Establish guidelines for quality defense services and review the delivery of defense service to ensure services meet established quality guidelines, best practices, and needs of panel attorneys;
  • Review invoices of contract investigators to ensure policies of Travis County and CAPDS are followed;
  • Provide legal guidance to providers of defense services and panel attorneys on applicable legal and ethical standards of defense services;
  • Study, monitor, and report on the effectiveness of holistic defense services;
  • Periodically review samples of completed cases to ensure the consistent and correct application of policy.


  • Salary commensurate with experience.
  • Position is dependent on approval of grant funding. This position is grant funded through September 30, 2018, with the expectation of continued permanent funding.
  • Position is at-will.
  • Desired start date is as soon as possible.  

To apply: Please email cover letter, resume, and writing sample (sentencing letter preferably) to as one document with Holistic Defense Supervisor in the subject line. Please demonstrate in your cover letter that you meet the minimum qualifications. Only applicants who meet the minimum requirements will be considered. Only electronic submissions will be accepted.  

Applications will be taken until position is filled. 

Project Director – The Forensic Project:

The Capital Area Private Defender Service (CAPDS) seeks a Project Director to manage the Forensic Project, a non-profit post-conviction law office charged primarily with reviewing convictions stemming from the Austin Police Department (APD) DNA Lab.  The APD DNA lab was shut down in July of 2016 after the Texas Forensic Science Commission issued a report raising serious quality concerns with the lab’s work. Following the award of a grant in September of 2016 from the Texas Indigent Defense Commission to review Travis County felony convictions involving DNA mixtures, the Forensic Project was funded by Inter-Local Agreement between the City of Austin and Travis County in March of 2017.  The Forensic Project is charged with reviewing approximately 1800 cases that may have involved DNA evidence and is expected to be funded for 3 to 5 years. 

The Project Director would supervise a small team of attorneys and investigators engaged in non-capital post-conviction case review to determine whether DNA evidence was material to a person’s conviction and providing post-conviction representation to clients who were affected by issues in the APD DNA lab or whose DNA mixture statistical calculations have changed significantly since the time of conviction.  The Project Director must be an experienced criminal defense or post-conviction attorney with a demonstrated commitment to excellent, client-centered representation.


  • Licensed attorney in the State of Texas, or ability to waive into the Texas Bar;
  • Minimum of 5 years of criminal defense or post-conviction/innocence work experience;
  • Demonstrated commitment to client-centered indigent defense;
  • Familiarity with forensic issues (Daubert hearings, trial cross-examination/theories, post-conviction);
  • Experience in criminal defense investigation, including knowledge of national standards for defense investigation; experience in post-conviction investigation preferred;
  • Familiarity with national and state indigent defense best practice standards;
  • Appellate/post-conviction litigation experience or demonstrated high quality research and writing skills;
  • Ability to function well in a team-based setting;
  • Experience working with diverse populations.


  • Knowledge of Texas case law and appellate/writ practice;
  • Knowledge of DNA and other forensic disciplines;
  • Experience leading a team of attorneys and investigators;
  • Experience managing and prioritizing a high volume of cases and/or processes;
  • Experience developing and implementing project plans and budgets;
  • Experience conducting government or non-profit reporting;
  • Ability to communicate effectively to the team and local government and public groups;
  • Proficiency in Spanish.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Supervises the materiality review process and all stages of writ litigation, to include: investigation, drafting, negotiation and advocacy;
  • Ensures highest standards of advocacy, professional responsibility, client-centered representation and best practices in all areas of post-conviction review and representation;
  • Acts as the representative of the Forensic Project on various commissions, committees and boards and at Travis County Commissioners Court Sessions and Texas Forensic Science Commission meetings;
  • Conducts and/or organizes training for Forensic Project attorneys, investigators, pro bono partners and legal interns/fellows;
  • Prepares project budgets and meets all county and grant reporting requirements;
  • Directs the administrative and operational functions of the office consistent with goals, objectives, internal and external deadlines and contract terms.

 Additional Responsibilities:

  • Keeps abreast of legal opinions, legislative updates, forensic science developments and evolving best practices and legal ethics in post-conviction innocence and wrongful conviction review, investigation and litigation;
  • Assists in prioritizing and balancing responsibilities related to a multitude of high priority tasks among staff, pro bono partners and legal interns;
  • Develops performance measures for the office and conducts annual reviews of employees;
  • Approves and invoices case-related and training-related travel, supplies and experts according to budgetary and contract/grant guidelines;
  • Supports direct post-conviction representation of clients;
  • Performs other duties as assigned.

 Salary commensurate with experience.  To apply, please email Ira Davis at Please include a cover letter, resume, professional references and two writing samples.  Only electronic submissions will be accepted. We will be accepting applications until the position is filled but priority will be given to those applicants whose applications are received by Friday, July 20, 2018.