Who We Are

We work to keep people out of prison and to stop state executions by adhering to our mission and core values—compassion, courage, competency, creativity, and collaboration—when representing clients. Our clients are indigent defendants charged with federal crimes ranging from drug offenses to white‐collar conspiracies and clients sentenced to death. We practice holistic defense lawyering to protect our clients’ rights and champion their humanity at every stage of the criminal case and beyond. Federal Defender Services of Eastern Tennessee (FDSET) seeks to attract and retain a high- performing workforce to serve our clients. We seek to embrace diversities, support equity, and foster an inclusive work environment that promotes commitment, flexibility, and fairness.

The Job

We need a full-time investigator in the Capital Habeas Unit (CHU) located in the Knoxville FDSET office. Significant travel is involved. Our clients are incarcerated in Tennessee and several other states (Texas, Ohio, Nebraska, Arizona, and Florida).


The investigator is responsible for identifying, locating, and interviewing witnesses, preparing written reports, and identifying, collecting, and reviewing a vast array of records. Our investigators must also actively participate in the retrieval and organization of these records. Investigators work collaboratively with one another and a team of paralegals and attorneys under the direction of the CHU Supervising Assistant Federal Defender. We expect all members of a case team to contribute to strategy discussions.

Salary & Benefits

Salary is commensurate with years of experience and qualifications in accordance with the Defender Organization Classification System and the Federal Judicial Salary Plan (JSP). The current salary range is JSP 11/1 at $69,107 to JSP 14/10 at $151,308 annually.

FDSET offers a generous benefits package, which includes paid vacation and sick leave, 11+ paid holidays (annually), medical, dental, vision, life/AD&D, long-term disability, and 401K retirement. FDSET provides medical (employee-only plans), dental, vision, basic life/AD&D, and long-term disability at no monthly premium cost to employees.

A partial remote work week is available to employees after an initial probationary period.


Qualified individuals may apply by sending ALL the following documents in PDF format to Sharon_Buckingham@fd.org by Tuesday, November 21, 2023.

(1)  Cover Letter

(2)  Resume

(3)  Three References

An email confirming receipt of the application materials will be sent to all applicants. Only those selected for interviews will receive further communication.


Candidates must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university; three years of general investigative experience; and either an additional four years of qualifying experience in investigations relating to the legal field or some combination of this experience and graduate-level education.  Experience in capital habeas or death penalty work desired. Applicants must possess substantial investigative skills to assist in a team approach to planning and developing litigation strategies and in investigating, analyzing, and developing fact and mitigation evidence. Candidates should possess excellent interpersonal skills, the ability to establish and maintain good working relationships, and the ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing and as a witness in court proceedings. Applicants must have a valid driver’s license and insurance and own a vehicle for business purposes. A working knowledge of Word, Outlook, Excel, and Adobe Acrobat is required.  Experience with CaseMap, Eclipse, and Summation is desirable.
Job Contact
Sharon Buckingham
18656377979 Sharon_Buckingham@fd.org