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Deputy Capital Defender Position Available

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

  • Virginia Indigent Defense Commission, Northern Virginia Capital Defender Office

 The Virginia Indigent Defense Commission (VIDC) is accepting applications for the position of Deputy Capital Defender in the Northern Virginia Capital Defender Office (NoVA CDO). The office is located in Arlington, Virginia, directly across the Potomac River from Washington, DC. NoVA CDO is principally a trial-level office, representing indigent clients charged with capital murder in cases throughout Northern Virginia. In addition, NoVA CDO is involved in a smaller number of direct appeals of capital convictions and provides resource and consultative services to other capital counsel. The Deputy Capital Defender reports to the Capital Defender of the Northern Virginia Office and is employed at will.

NoVA CDO delivers capital defense services through a staff of dedicated attorneys, capital mitigation specialists/investigators, and office manager, as well as contracting with fact investigators and experts in mitigation, mental health, and other technical and scientific disciplines. NoVA CDO emphasizes team-based defense and a holistic approach to questions of culpability and mitigation. NoVA CDO is committed to the following values:


  1. Excellence in the provision of capital defender services for indigent defendants, holding that ABA Guidelines for high quality representation in capital case set a minimum standard in the field;
  2. Client-centered and relationship-based work that respects the humanity and dignity of all involved in the criminal justice system; and
  3. Innovation and creativity in the provision of capital defense services.

As part of a defense team, the attorney will provide zealous and effective assistance of counsel in accordance with the ABA Guidelines for the Appointment and Performance of Defense Counsel in Death Penalty Cases, including:

  • Development and maintenance of positive and productive working relationships with clients and significant other case participants;
  • Legal research, analysis, and writing of motions and briefs;
  • Development and implementation of case theory, investigation, and litigation strategies;
  • Investigation and preparation of evidence for pre-trial negotiations, pre-trial hearings, trials, and post-trial litigation;
  • Identification, selection, preparation, and presentation of expert witnesses;
  • Courtroom advocacy in pre-trial, trial, post-trial, and appellate proceedings;
  • Management and maintenance of case files and additional materials;
  • Attendance at, and participation in, in-house and external trainings directed to improving and enhancing the attorney’s skill-set in the provision of capital defender services;
  • Working collaboratively with other team members, including court-appointed private co-counsel, court-appointed experts, and CDO staff members;
  • Leading in design, preparation, and presentation of in-house and external trainings in areas of specialized knowledge or interest;
  • Providing litigation support on a consultative basis to other capital defense practitioners;
  • Supervising and managing assistant capital defenders and mitigation specialists/investigators within office; and
  • Additional services and duties as the needs of the office dictate.

Applications will be judged according to the following criteria (in no particular order); applicants are expected to address the criteria in their application.

Minimum Qualifications:

  • Licensed attorney who is either admitted, or eligible for admission, to the Virginia State Bar;
  • At least three years’ experience as a practicing attorney;
  • Significant criminal defense and/or capital defense experience;
  • A commitment to working with clients in poverty;
  • A commitment to excellence in the provision of capital defender services;
  • Creativity and energy in approaching indigent defense and capital representation;
  • Strengths in team work, client relations, and relationship building;
  • Demonstrated skill and experience in written and oral advocacy; and
  • Valid driver’s license, with the ability and willingness to travel within and without the state, including travel to courts and various correctional institutions.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • At least five years’ experience as a criminal defense and/or capital defense attorney
  • Prior representation of persons charged with first-degree and/or capital murder;
  • Experience or training concerning mental health and retardation issues associated with the criminal justice system;
  • Experience working with disadvantaged client groups;
  • Supervisory and/or management experience;
  • Computer literacy, including but not limited to, the use of Microsoft Office applications, as well as spreadsheet, database programs, and case management software; and
  • Spanish language fluency.

How to Apply:
Applicants should submit (1) a completed state application, (2) a cover letter with attached legal writing sample, (3) a resume (“curriculum vitae”), and (4) references online to Virginia State Job’s website,, and search under Virginia Indigent Defense Commission or use the quick link below Inquiries should be directed to Edward J. Ungvarsky, Capital Defender, at 703.875.0103 or The position will remain open until filled.

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