Job Opportunities

Trial Attorney (#PDS-2020-05)

Vacancy Announcement:
Pay Series:
PDS 11/12/13/14 (GS-11/12/13/14 Equivalent)
Opening Date:
Jan 30, 2020
Closing Date:
Feb 27, 2020
Public Defender Service
  for the District of Columbia
633 Indiana Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004
Organization Description:
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 criminal, delinquency, and mental health matters in the District of Columbia. PDS’s approximately 200 attorneys, social workers, investigators, and 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, and the Thrift Savings Plan. Transferring employees will receive recognition of creditable federal service for leave accrual and retirement purposes. Employment at the Public Defender Service is neither federal nor District of Columbia government employment, and all employees are at-will.

Division Background: Attorneys in the Trial Division zealously represent adults in criminal proceedings and children in delinquency matters in the District of Columbia. Attorneys are assigned to specific types of cases based on experience and performance. As a result of intensive supervision and ongoing training, attorneys generally progress over the course of several years from litigating juvenile delinquency matters to litigating the most serious adult offenses. Less senior Trial Division staff attorneys handle the most difficult or resource-intensive delinquency cases (i.e., those with serious charges or children with serious mental illnesses or learning disabilities) and handle some general felony cases and a limited number of misdemeanor cases. Trial Division staff attorneys also provide representation in a wide range of other legal matters through PDS’s Duty Day Program and the Superior Court’s Drug Court Program.
Essential Duties:
Trial Division attorneys are responsible for providing outstanding oral and written advocacy in their individual cases and for working effectively with investigators, forensic social workers, and other specialists as needed to achieve each client’s desired outcome. Trial Division attorneys are also expected to be available to their colleagues to assist and to work collaboratively to produce the best outcome for PDS Trial Division clients.
Required Qualifications:
J.D. from an accredited law school; membership in the District of Columbia Bar or eligibility for reciprocity admission to the DC Bar at the time of application (for lateral candidates), or a willingness to sit for the first DC Bar after graduation (for candidates in their final year of law school at the time of application); excellent research, writing, and oral persuasion skills, and a demonstrated commitment to indigent criminal defense representation through employment and/or participation in law school clinics, internships and externships. Applicants must be prepared to make a minimum three-year commitment to PDS.
Preferred Qualifications:
Experience as a PDS law clerk, fellow, intern investigator, or staff investigator.
How To Apply:
Applicants must submit: (1) a resume; (2) a list of three references (name, e-mail address, telephone number, and a brief statement of how each reference is able to evaluate the applicant’s skills); (3) a cover letter; (4) an unofficial law school transcript (for applicants who graduated in 2015 or later); and (4) responses to the two essay questions.

Essay 1 - “Why do you want to be a public defender?” (Include a discussion of your background and/or any personal experience significantly contributing to your desire to do this work; no more than three typewritten pages, single- or double-spaced).

Essay 2 - You represent David Jones, a person charged with the crime of robbery. A Metro Transit police officer, Samantha Hill, wrote a police report about Mr. Jones’ arrest that reads as follows:

On October 1 2019 at 4:15pm a passenger at the Minnesota Avenue Metro station reported to police that she had just been the victim of a robbery. She said that a man had approached her from behind on the platform, grabbed her phone out of her hand, and fled through the turnstiles out toward Minnesota Avenue. She described the suspect as a young white man in a black hooded sweatshirt. I was on patrol on Minnesota Avenue when I received the call for this robbery, and I recognized the description as being that of a suspect who had committed multiple phone snatch robberies on Metro trains and platforms over the last several weeks. As I received the call, I saw a young white man with a black hooded sweatshirt walking on Minnesota Avenue one block south of the Metro station exit. I approached him and asked whether he had just left the Metro Station, and he stated that his school gave him a SmarTrip card, but it had no money on it so he was walking instead of taking the Metro. He denied having been in the Minnesota Avenue Metro station that day. He gave his name as David Jones and a birthdate of January 5, 2001. After having verified this information I did not search Mr. Jones and did not arrest him.

I then proceeded to run a search history on the SmarTrip system. I discovered that a SmarTrip card was registered to a David Jones, DOB 1/5/01, and that it had been used on October 1 2019 to enter the Eastern Market Metro station at 3:48pm and exit at the Minnesota Avenue Metro Station at 4:10 pm. I also discovered from the SmarTrip card history that the same card had been used to enter and exit the Metro system at dates, times, and locations corresponding to the other robberies committed by a person with the same physical description as the suspect from the October 1 robbery. Based on this information I applied for and obtained a warrant for the arrest of David Jones, who was subsequently arrested and charged with Robbery.

Please write a motion to suppress the evidence obtained from the SmarTrip card, no longer than 1500 words.

Jennifer Thomas, Director of Legal Recruiting - (202) 824-2337 or
PDS is an Equal Opportunity Employer and E-Verify Participating Agency.