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Senior Capital Trial Counsel Position Available

Thursday, January 19, 2012

  • Gulf Region Advocacy Center

 Executive Summary: The Gulf Region Advocacy Center (GRACE) is thrilled to announce that, with the help of Atlantic Philanthropies, we are expanding and refocusing our energies to respond to the changing needs of indigent capital defendants in Texas. This will include launching a Capital Trial Strike Force that will provide direct representation, on a pro bono basis, to a small number of particularly vulnerable indigent capital defendants facing trial, retrial or resentencing in the 13 Texas counties responsible for 80% of the death sentences in Texas (which are, unsurprisingly, also the counties exempted from the state-wide capital public defender system).

To this end, we will be adding a new Senior Trial Counsel to our staff, and reorganizing/expanding the office to include the new or newly reformulated positions of Deputy Executive Director, Communications Director and Development Director.

Established in 2002, GRACE is an independent, non-governmental, client-centered charity based in Houston, Texas that provides and supports high quality representation of indigent individuals facing the death penalty at trial or retrial. For more information, see Appendix, “Description and History of GRACE” and visit our web site at

GRACE emphasizes team-based defense and a holistic approach to questions of culpability and mitigation. We are committed to the following values:

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

It is an exciting time at GRACE and we are looking for four smart, energetic and innovative new team members to join us in responding to the changing needs of indigent capital defendants facing the death penalty in the most lethal and hostile jurisdictions in America.

Applicants should be reliable, hard-working troopers who flourish under pressure, function well in a low-budget non-profit environment, have problem-solving attitudes, are comfortable doing unpopular work in a hostile place and are prepared to make at least a two-year commitment. This is difficult work on the front-lines, but the most satisfying thing you’ll ever do.

Job Description: Senior Capital Trial Counsel will work within a multi-disciplinary defense team to provide the highest quality of capital defense to indigent defendants facing the death penalty in Texas state trial courts. Counsel will supervise fact and mitigation investigations, work with forensic and mental health experts, research, write and litigate extensive pretrial motions, and appear on behalf of indigent capital defendants in capital trial and sentencing proceedings.

Duties: As part of a defense team, counsel will provide zealous and effective representation in accordance with the ABA’s Guidelines for the Appointment and Performance of Defense Counsel in Death Penalty Cases, including:
• Development and maintenance of effective relationships with clients and their families;
• 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 negotiations, pre-trial hearings and trials;
• Identification, selection, preparation, and presentation of expert witnesses;
• Courtroom advocacy in pre-trial and trial proceedings;
• Management and maintenance of case files and additional materials;
• Working collaboratively within a multi-disciplinary team of lawyers, mitigation specialists, fact investigators, experts, and interns;
• Additional services and duties as the needs of the clients require.

Minimum Qualifications: Applicants should address the following criteria in their application:
• Licensed attorney who is either admitted, or eligible for admission, to the Texas State Bar;
• At least ten years’ experience as a practicing criminal defense attorney, including trial level work;
• Significant capital defense experience, preferably at the trial level;
• Experience or training in the identification, development and litigation of mental illness and intellectual deficits with the criminal justice system;
• A history of success in building and maintaining effective and compassionate relationships with mentally ill and intellectually disabled clients and their families;
• Demonstrated commitment to identifying, investigating and challenging racial discrimination in the criminal justice system;
• A history of success in bridging differences of race, culture and ethnicity to build and maintain effective relationships with clients and their communities;
• Demonstrated commitment to serving disadvantaged client groups and a history of working comfortably and effectively with severely impoverished clients and families;
• Knowledge of and commitment to the standard of care articulated in the ABA Guidelines;
• Demonstrated commitment to working within a team-based capital defense model;
• Demonstrated skill and experience in written and oral advocacy; and
• The ability and willingness to travel extensively.

Preferred Qualifications:
• Spanish language fluency.
• Training and experience in the use of the Colorado Method of capital jury selection.

Salary and Benefits: Salary based on need and experience. The range of salaries at GRACE is below those in the private, academic and government sectors, but consistent with those typical in charitable advocacy organizations. Benefits include health, vision and dental insurance and generous paid vacation.

How to Apply: Applicants should submit (1) a cover letter describing your training and experience within the context of the qualifications listed above; (2) at least one legal pleading (motion, petition, writ, etc.) of which you were the sole or primary author within the past five years, (3) a resume (“curriculum vitae”); (4) references including names and contact details for your direct supervisor for each legal job; (5) a list of capital cases in which you participated, including the jurisdiction, case name, outcome and description of your role in each case, and (6) any other materials relevant to demonstrating your ability to perform the duties outlined above, your suitability to the unique environment of our office and your interest in joining the GRACE team, electronically to Kirsty Davis:

The position will remain open until filled.

Equal Opportunity Employer
The Gulf Region Advocacy Center does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, non-disqualifying physical or mental disability, national origin, sexual orientation, or any other basis covered by federal, state or local laws.

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