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Mitigation Specialist

Federal Public Defender's Office CDIL

Job description

The Federal Public Defender for the Central District of Illinois is accepting applications for the permanent position of Mitigation Specialist supporting attorneys in the Springfield and Urbana divisions. The selected candidate may choose to be stationed in either division. The Federal Public Defender’s Office operates under the authority of the Criminal Justice Act 18 U.S.C. § 3006A to provide defense services in federal criminal cases and related matters by appointment from the court to individuals unable to afford counsel.


Duties.  The Mitigation Specialist is bound by the rules of professional responsibility that govern the conduct of counsel respecting work product, privilege, diligence, and loyalty to the client. The Mitigation Specialist is responsible for developing and analyzing mitigation evidence for court proceedings to aid the court in making decisions regarding pretrial release, trial, and sentencing. In furtherance of these duties the Mitigation Specialist will:

  • Assist attorneys in investigating, analyzing, developing, and presenting mitigation evidence.
  • Develop and maintain relationships with clients, their family members, local social service providers, pretrial service and probation officers, and other entities to support both the client and attorney.
  • Interview clients and relevant persons in a culturally competent manner.
  • Locate and conduct witness interviews to discover information to assist the attorney in advocating for pretrial release, and develop all mitigating circumstances in the client’s life to assist at trial or sentencing.
  • Obtain necessary client signatures and ensure all release forms are current and timely.
  • Gather, investigate, validate, and report to attorney all aspects of client’s life history obtained from multiple sources including vital records, social services records, educational records, employment and personnel records, military records, medical/health records, arrest reports, institutional records, community records, and interviews with persons relevant to the client.
  • Determine what experts might be consulted and potentially retained to evaluate the client for substance abuse or mental illness.
  • Facilitate client’s entry into treatment, housing, educational or vocational programs.
  • Maintain sufficient knowledge of current research and trends in areas such as substance abuse, mental health, and effects of incarceration.
  • Assist the attorney in court where requested, including preparing sentencing presentations and testifying.


Qualifications.  The successful applicant must have a bachelor’s degree and a minimum of two years of specialized experience. An advanced or graduate degree in Social Work is preferred. Specialized experience includes: conducting ongoing, exhaustive, and independent investigations of every aspect of the client’s character, life history, record, and any circumstances of the offense, or other factors, which may provide a basis for a lesser sentence; and maintaining complete and accurate files. Applicants should have a commitment to providing quality representation to indigent defendants and a reputation for personal integrity. A working knowledge of the criminal justice and correctional systems, psychology, and psychological testing are also required. Excellent interviewing and writing skills are essential for the position, as is the ability to locate, obtain, review, analyze, and summarize relevant records. Successful applicants will be able to prioritize projects and work both independently and cooperatively. Fluency in Spanish is a plus.


Salary and Benefits.  This full-time position is in the excepted service and offers full federal benefits, including Federal Employees Retirement System, Thrift Savings Plan, health and life insurance, annual and sick leave, and paid holidays. Starting salary will be commensurate with experience with a range from JSP (Judiciary Salary Plan) Grade 11, Step 1 to JSP Grade 14, Step 1 (currently $64,649 to $108,885 per annum).


Conditions of employment.  Employees of the Federal Public Defender are members of the judicial branch of government and are considered “at will”. Applicants must be United States Citizens or authorized to work in the United States. The successful candidate will be subject to a general background check as a condition of employment and may be subject to periodic updates. Direct deposit is required for payment of compensation for employees. Applicants must have a valid driver’s license and the ability to travel across the Central District of Illinois, as duties involve significant travel.


Application Information.  Qualified persons may apply by sending the following, in one PDF document, to:


(1) letter of interest

(2) current and detailed resume

(3) writing sample that has not been edited by others

(4) names and contact information for three work references who may be contacted

(5) completed AO78 application


Open until filled, with preference given to applications received by 9/16/21.

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


The Federal Public Defender for the Central District of Illinois is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply. Costs associated with interviewing and relocation will not be reimbursed. No telephone inquiries please.

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