The Office of the Public Defender, District 13, is seeking multiple, qualified individuals to serve as an Assistant Public Defender.  The selected candidate will represent indigent persons charged with criminal offenses in District and Superior Court.
Come join a brand-new office in District 13 as an Assistant Public Defender and experience all that Johnston County has to offer! As one of the fastest growing counties in North Carolina, Johnston County is uniquely situated at the crossroads of Interstate 40 and Interstate 95 allowing one to be at the beach in 2 hours or in the mountains in 4.5 hours. Johnston County has historically been known as a rural county, but the changing landscape is bringing in local breweries and award-winning restaurants.  The county seat of Johnston County, Smithfield, is only a 30-minute drive to the State Capital of Raleigh, where one can enjoy all the perks of city living, including museums, designer shopping districts and an international airport!
This position has some flexibility and can encompass a variety of options: misdemeanor focus, felony focus or a hybrid option that focuses on both misdemeanors and felonies. Prior experience will determine the level of cases assigned and there is opportunity to work with a varied level of staff experience. The court staff in this district are very collaborative and have a supportive and positive, working relationship with each other.  

All Assistant Public Defenders must be capable of handling difficult cases and clients, while maintaining positive professional relationships with co-workers, clients, and the public. Attorneys are expected to visit clients at the jail and in prison facilities.
As public service employees, it is strongly encouraged that all Assistant Public Defenders engage in community service projects and participate in outreach programs relevant to the services we are providing.
The brand-new office space has been created specifically for the new Public Defender’s Office and is centrally located in the courthouse in Smithfield.  We are looking for hard working, self-initiating attorneys willing to not only zealously advocate for their clients but with a client-centered, holistic approach to advocacy in mind.  These positions will include CLE opportunities, an annual Public Defender Conference, access to a variety of trainings, eligibility for Public Service Loan Forgiveness and access to expert forensic resources to support you with the work you will do to defend indigent clients.

Responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Advocating for client’s rights and interests prior to and during court proceedings, hearings, and trials.  This includes conducting legal research, preparing legal documents, developing defense strategies, assisting in investigating cases and gathering evidence, negotiating with prosecutors, and presenting evidence in court.
  • Staying informed about relevant laws, regulations, and legal precedents.
  • Collaborating with other legal professionals, including colleagues within the public defender’s office, investigators, and support staff.
  • Handling administrative tasks related to caseload management, document preparation, and other responsibilities within the public defender’s office.
  • Maintaining open and effective communication with clients to keep them informed about their cases, explain legal options, and address their concerns.  Also, maintaining communication to better understand your client’s unique situation and build a strong defense on your client’s behalf.
  • Adhering to ethical standards and legal responsibilities in the practice of law.

The District 13 Public Defender Office strives to create a diverse staff with expertise and interest in serving our indigent clients who come to us with diverse needs, backgrounds, ethnicities, and disabilities.

Applications must be submitted via for consideration. Deadline to apply is July 23, 2024 at 5:00pm EDT.

  • Knowledge of: Federal, State, common and constitutional law; judicial procedures and rules of evidence; case, statutory, regulatory and common law; NC General Statutes to defend criminal cases; judicial and quasi-judicial procedures; and legal research methods.
  • Skills in: strong communication, writing, interviewing, and organization.
  • Ability to: analyze facts, laws, rules, regulations, interpretations, and related written documents and apply applicable law to those facts; conduct legal research; plan, develop and execute an effective litigation strategy to achieve desired results; prepare, organize and conduct witness examinations; deliver opening statements, closing arguments, and evidentiary objections; and express complex legal concepts and related facts in a clear and concise manner.
Minimum Education and Experience Requirements Juris Doctor degree from an ABA accredited law school and an active license to practice law in North Carolina.