The Office of Capital & Forensic Writs (OCFW) is a small, close-knit public defender office in Austin, Texas. We proudly provide zealous, client-centered post-conviction representation to persons in Texas facing the death penalty and those serving prison sentences for convictions tainted by flawed forensic science.
Our practice is two-fold. First, we represent death-sentenced persons in constitutional challenges to their conviction and sentence. This is our largest practice. We represent 70% of persons in Texas raising initial post-conviction challenges to their convictions and death sentences, and a smaller number of clients in other procedural postures, such as incompetency to be executed, post-conviction DNA testing, and successive post-conviction proceedings.
Second, we represent a smaller number of people incarcerated and serving non-capital sentences in post-conviction challenges where questionable forensic science, negligence, or misconduct contributed to their conviction. In this practice, we challenge convictions that rest on tainted, outmoded, or unreliable forensic science, such as hair microscopy, blood spatter, bitemark, and fingerprint evidence. These individuals’ cases are referred to us by the Texas Forensic Science Commission.
The work OCFW does in Texas is making an impact.
In the last three years, OCFW has convinced Texas courts to overturn one client’s conviction, overturn a second client’s death sentence, and find a third client incompetent to be executed.
The two OCFW cases currently pending before the Court of Criminal Appeals have recommendations for granting relief or favorable findings that would lead to a new trial on culpability or sentence.
OCFW values dedication, compassion, collaboration, and dignity. These values are the cornerstone of all that we do. Our office is dedicated to client interests, professional development, and high-quality representation. We endeavor to work through an anti-oppressive lens, and display compassion to our clients, the community at large, each other, and ourselves. We foster a collaborative and supportive environment and empower each other in our work protecting the rights of our clients. We strive to be free from bias or favoritism and to treat all with respect.
OCFW is hiring a mitigation specialist to investigate on our clients’ behalf. Salary will depend on experience.
All mitigation specialists work as part of a team of advocates, all of whom offer valuable perspectives, backgrounds, and expertise. Although this work can be difficult, we consider ourselves fortunate to work alongside compassionate, dedicated, and collaborative colleagues to provide the best possible representation to our clients. Our clients benefit when their advocates have a wide and diverse range of professional and life experiences. OCFW is dedicated to maintaining a staff with backgrounds and experiences as diverse as Texas.
We are specifically seeking candidates with Spanish language skills.
The mitigation specialist will work as part of a team, alongside attorneys and paralegals, to provide holistic, post-conviction representation to clients in state post-conviction proceedings through investigation. Aspects of this work include:
Identifying and locating witnesses, and traveling across the state and country to interview them in their homes. Witnesses include complaining witnesses, law enforcement and eyewitnesses, the client’s friends, family, teachers, neighbors, coworkers, etc. Depending on the needs of a case, mitigation specialists may perform both mitigation and culpability investigation.
Conducting a culturally competent social history investigation by establishing on-going relationships with the client and family, and interviewing witnesses who are knowledgeable about the client at every phase of his or her life, and maintaining a close relationship based on trust and rapport with multiple clients. Our clients are usually housed at the Polunsky Unit prison in Livingston, Texas. Each member of the team visits clients frequently.
Gathering and analyzing relevant records and anecdotes to develop information concerning the circumstances of the alleged crime and the client’s life history. From the information we gather, mitigation specialists draft memos, construct timelines, and assist in drafting the social history narrative of the client’s life and family history.
Working independently by managing the competing priorities and deadlines of multiple cases. Mitigation specialists create and implement their own investigation plans after consulting with the case team members.
Working as a member and facilitating the success of interdisciplinary teams of multiple attorneys, other mitigation specialists, supervisors, and experts. As a full member of each client’s case team, mitigation specialists collaborate in developing theories of the case and case strategies and providing litigation support to the team.
Given the nature of the work, mitigation specialists should expect to work some evenings, weekends, and holidays. Travel throughout Texas is required.
While OCFW supported remote work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we are currently committed to a hybrid workplace. Currently, staff work at least two days a week in-office. The number of required in-office days is subject to change.
- College degree;
- An organized and precise work practice with attention to detail and accuracy;
- A demonstrated commitment to the representation of death-sentenced persons and persons from marginalized communities;
- Excellent written and oral communication;
- Highly developed interpersonal and collaboration skills; Experience working with people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, and an awareness of the issues that must be overcome to successfully work with people who have life experiences you do not share.
- Bilingual in Spanish and English;
- Capital defense investigation experience;
- Experience working in a legal office that serves indigent communities;
- Degree or post-graduate study in a relevant field (e.g., cultural anthropology, psychology, sociology, African American or Latin American studies, public health, ethnography, law, social work, english, history, communications, or another field involving qualitative research);
- Familiarity or experience with identifying mental health symptoms, trauma, intellectual disabilities, forensic sciences, and/or issues of race, ethnicity and poverty within the criminal justice system or elsewhere.
Posting Date: October 24, 2023
Closing Date: Until Filled
Job Listing: 215-23-02
Location: Austin, Texas
State Classification: Investigator IV-VI
FLSA Status: Exempt
Type of Job: Full time, some weekends are required.
Travel Required: Yes (50%)
Please email the following materials to email@example.com:
a letter of interest;
a list of references; and
the mandated State of Texas Application for Employment (available at: https://www.twc.texas.gov/sites/default/files/busops/docs/state-of-texas-applications-e-133-twc.pdf).
Veterans, Reservist or Guardsmen with an MOS or additional duties that fall in the fields of 27A, 27B, 250X, LGL10, 04, 4402, 51JX, or other related fields pertaining to the minimum experience requirements may meet the minimum qualifications. Additional Military Crosswalk information can be accessed at: http://www.hr.sao.state.tx.us/Compensation/MilitaryCrosswalk/MOSC_Legal.pdf.
The Office of Capital & Forensic Writs is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, sex, religion, age or disability in employment or the provision of services. In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, any request for reasonable accommodations needed during the application process should be communicated by the applicant to Joy Right, the Office of Capital & Forensic Writs Senior Accountant, at firstname.lastname@example.org.