(DEPARTMENTAL INTERNAL ONLY) PUBLIC DEFENDER’S OFFICE – PRINCIPAL ATTORNEY

500 E. Overland Ave. El Paso, Texas, 79901
  • $108,023 - $143,172 per year
  • 19155462218 19155462*** show
  • epcountyjobs@epcounty.com
  • April 3, 2024

Minimum Qualifications
Acceptable Experience and Education
Doctor of Jurisprudence and a minimum of four (4) years of criminal and/or civil experience;

Or any equivalent combination of education, experience, and training which provides the required knowledge, skills, and abilities along with a Doctor of Jurisprudence

Certificates and Licenses Required
Must have and maintain a license to practice law in the State of Texas and be in good standing with the State Bar of Texas.

Depending on area assigned: Must have or obtain by date of hire a valid driver’s license applicable to job responsibilities, with a driving record acceptable to the County of El Paso.

Typical Duties
Essential Duties
Exhibits advanced professional expertise;

Makes decisions on complex legal matters within the requirements of the law and the policies of the department to which assigned;

Applies knowledge, skill, and expertise in applicable areas of law to keep pace with current developments, especially as related to legislative and case law changes;

Advises highest level of elected and appointed officials regarding liability, duties, powers, and constitutional and statutory limitation and requirements;

Litigates and negotiates many complex matters at the federal and state level;

Handles most uniquely complex matters, such as death penalty litigation, cases with scientific evidence and analysis, and analogous complex civil matters;

Advises other attorneys, often with little notice, on complex areas;

Designs and implements procedures in consultation with supervisor to best achieve goals in specific area of expertise;

Represents the client in state or county court, courts of appeals and federal courts;

Provides advice, leadership, and guidance to other attorneys as appropriate;

Drafts and recommends policies, procedures, practices, and specific actions to best deal with critical issues;

Manages legal/financial risks and satisfies often-conflicting legal requirements;

Establishes workable procedures to manage complex caseload;

Maintains daily contact with highest level officials in multiple offices with a variety of functions;

Counsels officials during time-critical crises;

Prepares complex, creative, high quality, and unique legal documents;

Issues written legal opinions to officials and seeks written opinions from the state Attorney General;

Interacts with the highest level of public officials;

Trains and instructs other lawyers, officials, and employees;

Assists in departmental policy development; develops unit forms and procedures;

Prepares and presents complex reports as required;

Attends and participates in meetings, training and information sessions;

Stays abreast of new trends and innovations in the field;

Provides training in general and/or specialized area of expertise;

Commits self to providing excellent customer service and demonstrate commitment through cooperative team and individual efforts; and

Creates a high quality work culture through participation in and emphasis on training and mentoring to develop leadership, management, and technical skills in self and all employees, including safety related training and skills.

Depending on area assigned:
Public Defender Office:
Represents all indigent persons charged with crimes in the County whose cases are appointed to the Public Defender’s Office;

Defends individuals adults and juveniles charged with felonies, misdemeanors and traffic cases for which a sentence of incarceration may be imposed;

Povides representation at all stages of the court process, including before the filing of formal charges, at the trial court level, and any related appeals;

Provides effective representation to clients while managing a large caseload;

May concentrate in representing as assigned to handle specific types of cases such as family, juvenile, indigent, mental health, appellate, etc.;

Works closely with Public Defender staff, investigators, social workers, and mitigation specialist, as well as community agencies to match needs of clients with resources, programs, and assistance provide holistic, client-centered representation;

Handles all court hearings for clients, including seeking bond reductions in the Jail Magistrate Court. arraignment court and bond court;

Interviews clients (both detained and on bond) supporting preparation for and argues motions for release on personal bond and/or bond reduction, development and investigation of defenses to pending charges, and development of potential mitigation of punishment;

Meets with clients when arrested and obtains their history to make bond arguments to the court;

Meets with the client to discuss the appropriate action to be taken and whether pre-trial motions should be filed, discuss any plea offers from the State, and the consequences, including collateral legal consequences thereto, and, ultimately prepare client and case for trial;

Maintains strong, ongoing working relationship with clients in person, including visits in detention facilities, by phone and by mail contact;

May be called as required to represent individuals at investigative proceedings, related civil matters, and other ancillary issues; may be assigned to handle cases involving post-conviction writs of habeas corpus and/or appellate relief;

Interviews and counsels respondents in mental health proceedings in Local or State treatment units where they may be confined and works closely with psychiatrists and other medical or treatment personnel;

Investigates and directs investigation by staff investigators into alleged crime(s) or offense, including by meeting with witnesses, police officers and reviewing the facts;

Reviews case, results of investigation, applicable laws and codes, and professional obligations to identify, prepare, direct filing, and litigate appropriate pretrial motions;

Establishes and maintains close contact with defendants by regular visits to the Correctional facilities or by constant correspondence via personal visits to the Public Defender’s Office, phone contact or by letters to defendants not in custody;

Performs as trial counsel by representing defendants clients during courtroom proceedings;

Researches case law, communicates with defendant clients to determine on an on-going basis, including to advise and consult in client’s decision whether to accept a plea offer, to go to trial with a judge or a jury for guilt/not guilt, to have punishment assessed by a judge or judge, whether to testify at the guilt phase, whether to testify at the punishment phase, and whether to appeal;

Researches case law and witness testimony, conducts investigations and negotiates with the prosecutor State’s Attorney’s Office. Analyzes facts, evidence and the strength of case, determines client’s wishes and meets with prosecutor to resolve the matter short of trial;

Prepares trial strategy, including mitigation case for punishment, such as prepares for direct and cross-examination of witnesses procedures, witness selection, jury selection, testimony decisions and opening and closing arguments;

Acts as negotiator between the defendant clients and the State’s Attorney’s Office prosecutors to secure acquittals or reach agreement concerning sentence time plea agreements which would be the most beneficial for the defendant client. and the State’s Attorney’s Office;

Represents defendants clients during other court proceedings. Prepares pre-trial motions such as Answer to Discovery, Motions to Suppress Evidence, Requests for Notice, Motions to Dismiss and Motions to Additional Discovery, which are required to be filed in accordance with the Texas Rules of Criminal Procedure, Texas Penal Code, Texas Family Code, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, and other relevant statutes, as well as and a obtaining a hearing set to ensure that they are carried out properly litigate the motions as necessary;

Prepares, files, and litigates post-trial matters including Motions for New Trial, as necessary. such as motions to withdraw pleas, motions to reconsider sentence and post-conviction petitions;

Maintains extensive contact with various State prosecuting and other legal offices, social service agencies, Correctional detention facilities staff, police and other law enforcement entities, forensic authorities, crime labs, and pathologists. Maintains frequent contact with the Department of Family and Protective Services, Texas Department of State Health Services and Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services Health and agencies regarding as well as other providers, including facilitating the referrals of clients for drug treatment, family counseling and other assistance;

Works closely with community agencies to match needs of clients with resources, programs, and assistance;

Is approachable serving as a mentor and resource for co-workers and evidences willingness to receive and utilize feedback and guidance from other team members.

Other Important Duties
Performs such other related duties as may be assigned;

May work extended hours and weekends;

Regular out of town travel for professional conferences and meetings;

Maintains a safe and healthy work place environment;

As members of the County of El Paso Emergency Response System, all El Paso County employees are designated as Disaster Service Workers during a proclaimed emergency and may be required to train on emergency response and/or perform certain emergency services at the direction of their supervisor.

Job Summary
Summary of Position
The Principal Attorney under general supervision, and depending on area of assignment: provides highly complex and/or specialized general counsel and litigation services for various County Offices and staff; prosecutes criminal, civil and family law cases; high degree of independence represents, defends, and advocates for clients accused of a crime; performs the most complex non-supervisory legal work.

This is the third in a series of three non-supervisory attorney-related job classifications within the Attorneys job family. Employees in this classification can be distinguished from other lower level attorney classifications due to the high level of latitude and independence with their work.

Additional Information
Minimum Requirements: Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities
Knowledge of: County, state, and federal legal principles, practices, procedures regarding the court system; state and local statutes and codes; case law; rules of evidence; contract terminology and requirements; legal practices and procedures; legal terminology; department policies, procedures and regulations covering specific areas of assignment; County organization, operations, policies and procedures; financial record keeping; English usage, grammar, punctuation and spelling; techniques for effective interpersonal communications; modern office procedures, methods and computer equipment to include Windows and Microsoft based products.

Skill/Ability to: operate a personal computer and various software applications; conduct research, develop appropriate documentation, assess and prioritize multiple tasks, projects and demands to meet scheduled requirements; establish and maintain effective working relations with co-workers and customers to promote and support a productive work environment; defining problems, collecting data, establishing facts and drawing valid conclusions work efficiently independently and in a team environment to meet established goals and objectives; communicate effectively in verbal and written forms to respond effectively to customers and staff; exercise initiative and independent judgment within established procedural guidelines in performance of daily duties; use initiative and independent judgment within established procedural guidelines; prepare clear, concise and comprehensive written reports; and establish and maintain cooperative and effective relationships with those contacted during the course of work. Pass a background investigation.

Each and every county position requires the following professional skills and abilities as key and necessary elements of performance:
· Demonstrate regular and reliable attendance;
· Work well with others and participate fully in a team oriented environment;
· Interface with other employees and customers in a courteous and respectful manner;
· Maintain strict confidentiality;
· Project positive support of their department and all organizations receiving El Paso County service at all times; and,
· Maintain and enhance the County’s commitment to customer service excellence