Job Opportunities at PDS
Mental Health InvestigatorApply Now
About The Job
The Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS) is a federally funded, independent organization governed by an eleven-member Board of Trustees. PDS provides legal representation for indigent individuals who are charged with criminal offenses in the District of Columbia and face a loss of liberty. PDS has approximately 200 employees, most of whom work at the main office at 633 Indiana Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. PDS’s staff consists of approximately 100 attorneys and approximately 100 social workers, investigators, administrative, and technical staff. PDS is funded by federal appropriations, and all employees are entitled to participate in certain federal benefits plans: health and life insurance, federal retirement, and Thrift Savings Plan. Transferring employees will receive recognition of creditable federal service for leave accrual and retirement purposes.
This position is located in the Mental Health Division of the Public Defender Service (PDS) for the District of Columbia. The Mental Health Division (MHD) provides legal representation for District of Columbia residents who have been involuntarily hospitalized in a psychiatric facility and potentially face prolonged civil or criminal commitment. In addition, the MHD staff regularly advise local and national advocacy groups, testify before the D.C. Council on legislative reforms, and frequently provide critical assistance to trial division attorneys. The incumbent of the position serves as a Mental Health Investigator responsible for performing all aspects of the investigative work necessary to support MHD attorneys who provide legal representation to District of Columbia residents in more difficult and complex civil and/or criminal commitment cases.
Employment at the Public Defender Service is at will and is not federal employment.
This position works in concert with legal defense counsel to gather information to assist the attorney in effectuating the client’s expressed interest. The Mental Health Investigator is responsible for all phases of investigation, as detailed in the attorney’s investigative request. Also, the incumbent must possess excellent communication skills, the ability to work independently, and the compassion and desire to serve indigent clients who live with mental illness.
- Contacting, interviewing, and encouraging the cooperation of a wide spectrum of witnesses, including: psychiatrists, psychologists, physicians, social workers, lay hospital staff, mental health case managers, law enforcement personnel, court personnel, family members, complaining witnesses, and eyewitness. Documenting the effort and findings of interviews in the client’s case file. Identifying and following up on leads gained through interviews, medical records and other information.
- Gathering, reviewing and synthesizing client legal, medical and mental health records, including retrieval of information from criminal justice and mental health databases.
- Locating witnesses and conducting background checks using electronic databases. Serving subpoenas for witnesses and documents when necessary.
- Diagramming, photographing or producing "Google" map images of various locations, including but not limited to places of arrest and/or detention.
- Preparing documents and exhibits for litigation.
- Testifying before the Commission on Mental Health and the Superior Court when necessary.
In order to qualify for this position, an applicant must have sufficient education and experience to perform the duties of the Investigative Specialist (Mental Health Investigator) position. Also, applicants will be assessed based on the listed desired knowledge, skills, and abilities below.
All candidates are subject to a criminal background check.
Qualifications Required for the PDS Grade 11
Candidates must have at least one-year specialized experience as a social worker, mitigation specialist, and/or a criminal defense investigator (Investigative Specialist) who investigated civil or criminal commitment cases.
Qualifications Required for the PDS Grade 12
Candidates must have at least one-year specialized experience as a social worker, mitigation specialist, and/or a criminal defense investigator (Investigative Specialist) who investigated civil or criminal commitment cases at the Grade 11 or equivalent level.
Notes on Educational Requirements
Education must be from an accrediting institution recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Applicants can verify accreditation at the following website: http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation/search.aspx. All education claimed by applicants will be verified by PDS.
Special Instructions For Foreign Education: Applicants who are using education completed in foreign colleges or universities to meet the qualification requirements, must show that the education credentials have been evaluated by a private organization that specializes in interpretation of foreign education programs and such education has been deemed equivalent to that gained in an accredited U.S. education program; or full credit has been given for the courses at a U.S. accredited college or university. For further information, visit: http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ous/international/usnei/us/edlite-visitus-forrecog.html
Other Requirements: (1) Incumbent must have insured, reliable and available transportation; (2) incumbent must have no convictions as defined in D.C. Code Sec. 14.305(b)(1) (Impeachment by evidence of conviction of crime); (3) applicant must be a US Citizen or authorized to work in the United States.
Highly Desirable Qualifications: Additionally, the following knowledge, skills, and abilities and/or experiences are deemed highly desirable:
- A Master’s Degree in Counseling, Psychology and/or Social Work;
- The ability to fluently speak and write Spanish;
- Training and/or internship experience in criminal defense investigations;
- Training and/or internship experience in mental health to include knowledge about mental health treatment approaches, diagnosis, treatment modalities, psychiatric medications;
- Knowledgeable about legal issues surrounding commitment and rules for criminal procedure and investigative techniques.
- Licensed as a Clinical Social Worker or Professional Counselor;
- Computing skills which include word processing, criminal justice database usage, social media usage, data input, and criminal defense related data analysis;
Your application package includes your cover letter, resume and requested supporting documents. Please ensure your application package includes detailed information to support your qualifications for this position. Failure to provide sufficient evidence in your application package and requested supporting documents can result in a rejection of your application package.
Rating: Your application package will be rated and ranked among other applicants, based on your experience, education, training, and awards relevant to the duties of this position. Your rating can be lowered if your application package is not supported by the requested documents.
Referral: If you are among the top qualified candidates, your application package will be referred to a hiring manager for consideration at which time you may be invited to participate in a selection interview.
Non-local candidates (outside 60 miles) can request to be interviewed via Skype or other electronic means.
Number of vacancies:
PDS-AD-11/12 (GS-11/12 Equivalent)
Salary Range: $74,950 - $116,788
PDS is funded by federal appropriations, and employees are entitled to participate in federal benefits plans, federal retirement systems, and the workers compensation program. Transferring federal employees will receive recognition of creditable federal service for leave accrual and retirement (if applicable) purposes. Benefits include:
Federal Employees Retirement Systems
Thrift Savings Plan (similar to a 401K program)
Federal Employees Health Benefits
Federal Employees Group Life Insurance
Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program
Flexible Spending Accounts (for health care and dependent care)
Long Term Care
Employee Assistance Program
Federal Occupational Health (access to health clinic and services)
Who May Apply:
How to Apply:
You must provide a complete application package which includes: (1) a cover letter as noted above; (2) a resume, including email address; (3) official college transcripts (if available; otherwise, they must be provided within 30 days if selected); and (4) a list of three references that include name, address, telephone number, and a statement of how each reference is able to evaluate your skills. Materials should be consolidated as a single PDF and submitted through the PDS employment application portal.
Your cover letter must include your qualifications as follows:
- Your experience and skill working with individuals living with mental illness, including work on civil and criminal commitment cases.
- Your knowledge of mental health treatment approaches, diagnosis, treatment modalities, psychiatric medications and legal issues surrounding commitment and rules for criminal procedure.
- Your knowledge of the basic principles and techniques of investigating. Please detail your knowledge of criminal defense investigations.
- Your skill in conducting interviews and recognizing, exploring, and exploiting leads.
- Your skill in communicating clearly both orally and in writing.
Please submit your application package through PDS’s online application portal found through the following link: https://pdsdc.jobs.net/en-US/search. PDS will not accept application packages by email, mail, fax or personal delivery. Materials should be consolidated as a single PDF and submitted through the PDS employment application portal.
COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement: The PDS COVID-19 vaccination policy requires as a condition of employment that all employees be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or receive from PDS a reasonable accommodation due to a disability or sincere religious belief. If you are offered a position and decide to join PDS, then before starting work at PDS you will be required either (A) to submit proof that you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to your initial HR representative or (B) to request and receive an accommodation due to disability of sincere religious belief.
If you have any questions about the position, application, hiring process or require a reasonable accommodation during any part of the application process, please contact Anisha Trice, HR Specialist at (202) 824-2227 or email [email protected].
PDS is an Equal Opportunity Employer and an E-Verify Participating Agency
The Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS) is a federally funded, independent organization; governed by an eleven-member Board of Trustees, PDS provides legal representation to individuals facing a loss of freedom in the local criminal, delinquency, and mental health systems in the District of Columbia. PDS’s approximately 235 attorneys, social workers, investigative specialists, administrative, and technical staff collaborate with each other to advance the PDS mission. PDS’s main office is located at 633 Indiana Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. District of Columbia residency is not a requirement for employment. PDS is funded by federal appropriations, and all employees are entitled to participate in the federal health and life insurance plans, the federal retirement plans (FERS, FERS-RAE, FERS-FRAE, CSRS, CSRS-Offset), and the Thrift Savings Plan. Transferring employees will receive recognition of creditable federal service for leave accrual and retirement purposes. Employment at PDS is neither federal nor District of Columbia government employment, and all employees are at-will.
PDS is an Equal Opportunity Employer and E-Verify Participant.