Position Information

Position Information Message
Special Assistant Defender - Wrongful Conviction Unit
Job Summary:  Join Michigan’s State Appellate Defender Office (SADO) for a one-year grant position as a Special Assistant Defender in our Wrongful Conviction Unit. SADO Attorneys work statewide to right the wrongs of an unjust, racist, and classist criminal legal system. We are appointed by the trial courts to work with our clients to appeal their felony convictions.  This starting to mid-level position pays from $57,000 to $75,000, depending on experience.
The Special Assistant Defender will identify SADO clients who were wrongfully convicted and work to exonerate them. The attorney will: 
  • Review new appellate assignments for the common contributing factors to wrongful conviction
  • Collaborate with staff investigator to develop and execute fact investigation to support the development of appellate or postconviction claims
  • Identify the need for expert services—including but not limited to DNA testing, expert case review, forensic analysis or reanalysis of evidence—necessary to develop viable appellate or postconviction claims
  • Draft and file necessary pleadings
  • Prepare for and litigate hearings and oral arguments in assigned cases
About Us:  Due in large part to Michigan’s unique appellate system, SADO attorneys work in trial courts and appellate courts across the state to achieve tangible results for clients and improve the system. We put our clients’ goals front and center and strive to show the courts they are more than a case number.
Michigan is one of the only states in the country that allows appellate attorneys to develop new evidence and hold evidentiary hearings in trial courts as part of a direct appeal. Working directly in the trial courts to expand the record on appeal contributes to frequent grants of new trials[1] and significant reductions in a person’s prison sentence.
Attorneys and their clients work with a team, including investigators, mitigation specialists, experts, paralegals, reentry specialists, and administrative staff. Attorneys travel the state to meet with clients in prisons and jails and to advocate in court, from Marquette to Macomb and from St. Joseph to Sault Ste. Marie.
SADO attorneys frequently appear in the Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court and play an important role in shaping criminal law in Michigan. SADO attorneys also have advocated before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court.[2]
We have several internal committees and projects aimed at being an active member of the community, including Michigan Department of Corrections Quality of Life,[3] Strategic Litigation, Court Rules and Legislation, Project Reentry, and the Racial Justice Initiative. Our fifty-plus staff members form a community advocating for clients and a fairer criminal legal system. Visit www.sado.org to learn more.
[1] Read about a new trial granted last summer.
[2] See a SADO argument before the Michigan Supreme Court here. Clients across Michigan are now entitled to expert and investigator assistance at the State’s expense. Read the unanimous opinion.
[3] Read recent recommendations from SADO about how the Michigan Department of Corrections can address the COVID-19 crisis inside our prisons.
Position: Special Assistant Defender - Wrongful Conviction Unit
Organization: State Appellate Defender Office
Location: Detroit,  MI 
United States
Posting Start Date:
Date Posted: 3/3/2021
Requirements QUALIFICATIONS:  Applicants must either be current members of the Michigan Bar or eligible to waive into the bar at time of hire.  Applicants must have a commitment to indigent defense, public service, and racial equity. Skills in legal research and writing, investigation, and client communication are preferred. While SADO employees are working from their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, this position is available in either our Lansing or Detroit office.
BENEFITS:  State employee benefits are comprehensive and include:
•   Medical, dental, vision, and life insurance
•   401k plan with up to a 9% employer contribution
•   12 paid holidays
•   3 weeks of paid vacation in year one
•   Paid sick time and, for eligible employees, paid parental leave
•   Long-term disability insurance
•   Flexible work hours
•   Work from home options
•   Paid training opportunities

To apply:  Submit a cover letter stating your interest in the position. Include your resume and a redacted writing sample.
Writing Sample Special Instructions:  As part of its commitment to diversity in the workplace and its goal to prevent hiring bias, we ask that applicants submit redacted writing samples, which will be reviewed without access to applicant information and scored based on objective criteria. Your name, address, work affiliation, and other identifiers should be redacted from your writing sample.  Files should be named generically, and your name should not be a part of the filename.  For example, you can name the file WS1.pdf or WritingSample.pdf. 
Applications should be submitted by March 22, 2021 to:
Attn:  Wendy Dealca (she/her)
Human Resources Manager
State Appellate Defender Office
3031 W. Grand Blvd., Suite 450
Detroit, MI  48202
Email:  wdealca@sado.org    Fax:  313-263-0042
SADO is an equal opportunity employer and is committed to diversity.  We recognize people of color are disproportionately impacted by the criminal legal system and actively seek to employ staff with backgrounds representative of its clients and the defense community. We strongly encourage people of color, people with disabilities, veterans, LGBTQ people, and people directly affected by the criminal legal system to apply. A felony conviction does not prohibit employment at SADO.
www.SADO.org | @SADOmich

Status: This listing expires on: 6/1/2021
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Organization Information
State Appellate Defender Office

Detroit,  MI 48202
United States
Wendy Dealca