The staff of the Louisville-Jefferson County Public Defender’s office consists of attorneys, investigators, paralegals, social workers, a mitigation coordinator, law clerks, administrative assistants, data entry personnel, and a comptroller.
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The Louisville Metro Public Defender’s office has a full-time Training Division responsible for meeting the training needs and requirements of all attorneys in the office. The Training Division utilizes both a full-size classroom capable of accommodating large groups for plenary training sessions and a full-size moot courtroom, complete with judge’s bench, witness stand and jury box, which features its own A/V recording system.
The New Attorney Orientation & Training Program is directed toward those who are newly hired and are either pending bar examination results, have recently been admitted to the Kentucky Bar or otherwise have relatively little experience in local criminal trial practice. The program is completed prior to any new attorney being assigned cases and actually representing our clients. Initial training is conducted over the course of several weeks, and it is followed by ongoing training in the ensuing months that includes mentoring and partnering with an experienced trial attorney. The first component of new attorney training features: 1) presentations and discussions directed toward understanding substantive law and procedure (including local Rules, customs and practices), building and maintaining the attorney-client relationship, and developing trial practice skills, techniques and strategies; 2) extensive courtroom observation while in the one-on-one company of experienced attorneys, with the new attorney observing hearings, trials and other court proceedings, plea negotiations and client interviews; and 3) participation in practice exercises utilizing a mock case problem or scenarios, which include client interviews, preliminary hearings and all phases of trial, followed by extensive review, critique and discussion.
The Training Division also provides ongoing in-house training services for the entire staff. These include plenary training sessions on a wide range of topics and may, from time to time, feature outside speakers. In conjunction with the Training Division, the Appellate Division provides regular case updates. Ongoing training also may include occasional small group sessions and individual case reviews to provide assistance in upcoming trials or hearings. The Training Division, along with other supervisory personnel and the Appellate Division, is also available, through an open-door policy, to provide consultation and advice to any attorney on an as-needed basis.
The Louisville Metro Public Defender’s office offers attorney employment opportunities across several divisions, each of which are discussed below. While the division assignment preference of a new attorney may be considered, division assignments are largely driven by staffing needs, the respective experience levels of the attorneys, and insights gained from the performance of participants in the new attorney training program. Following the initial division assignments of new attorneys, they may be “rotated” or reassigned to different divisions. Regardless of the division assigned, each attorney will be responsible for every phase of the client’s representation, including initial, timely and regular contact with the client, appropriate research, investigation, motion practice and plea negotiations, and, ultimately, trial and sentencing. The Louisville Metro Public Defender views continuity of representation as central to an effective attorney-client relationship. In order to ensure continuity of representation, we utilize a “vertical representation” system wherein a given attorney will continuously represent a particular client throughout all stages of the proceedings from appointment until final disposition in the trial courts. Additionally, for so long as an attorney has an open file on a particular client, that attorney will continue to receive any subsequent appointments on new charges for that client until all outstanding charges have been resolved.
The Adult Trial Division: This is the largest division in the office and comprises the majority of the attorney staff. For administrative purposes, it is itself divided into several Teams of five to eight attorneys, each with experienced supervising attorneys. The Adult Trial Division attorney is responsible for representing adult clients in all phases of the prosecution of misdemeanor and felony charges in both District and Circuit courts. He or she may, therefore, represent clients on disorderly conduct or possession of marijuana charges and on the same day represent other clients on rape or robbery charges. Most new attorneys are assigned to this division.
The Juvenile Trial Division: This is the second largest division in the office. Attorneys in the Juvenile Division are responsible for representing juvenile clients primarily in Juvenile Court on Juvenile Petitions which may include criminal/delinquency charges or status offenses such as truancy and beyond parental control petitions. Under prevailing Kentucky law, more serious felony charges may be transferred to Circuit Court, in which case the Juvenile Division attorney may represent the client in a jury trial. An attorney in the Juvenile Division is also primarily responsible for handling cases involving individuals who are the subject of involuntary hospitalization proceedings due to mental illness. This will include protecting the client’s liberty interests in response to petitions for commitment of 60 to 360 days for treatment, forced medication hearings, de novo hearings and related proceedings.
The Capital Trial Division: This division represents clients charged with capital offenses for which the prosecution is seeking the death penalty. It is composed of senior trial attorneys. New attorneys are not assigned to this division.
The Appellate Division: This division primarily represents clients appealing a conviction at trial. Such appeals are typically heard in either the Kentucky Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court of Kentucky. Attorneys in the Appellate Division are responsible for review of the entire trial court record, drafting the appellate brief, filing appropriate motions at the appellate level and presenting oral arguments. Appellate Division attorneys may also handle habeas corpus petitions (in state and federal courts), interlocutory appeals, writs and miscellaneous Petitions for Relief in the appellate courts. The Appellate Division also coordinates closely with the Training Division and provides assistance to trial attorneys on an as-needed basis. New attorneys are seldom assigned to this division.
Any qualified, interested applicant is encouraged to apply. Applicants for an attorney position must meet one or more of the following criteria:
The Louisville-Jefferson County Public Defender Corporation is an equal opportunity employer. The Public Defender Corp. does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, religious creed, national origin, ancestry, disability, or sexual orientation. The Public Defender Corp. encourages applications from minorities and other groups that are underrepresented in the legal profession.
Unless otherwise noted, applications can be submitted online. Include, as a single attachment (either as a Word document or a PDF), the following:
DVDs mailed via the U.S. Postal Service or other carriers should be addressed to Leo G. Smith, Chief Public Defender, Advocacy Plaza, 701 – 719 West Jefferson Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40202.