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Lead Counsel, Capital Litigation Unit

Posting Begin Date: 2024/05/03
Posting End Date: 2024/05/24
Category: Attorney
Sub Category: Legal
Work Type: Full Time
Location: Boise, ID, United States
Minimum Salary: 52.89
Maximum Salary: 66.35
Pay Rate Type: Hourly

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State of Idaho Opportunity

Lead Counsel, Capital Litigation Unit

Full-time (40 hours)

$52.89 hr. ($110,011.20) - $66.35 hr. ($138,008) annually D.O.E. 

Defending zealously, advancing fairness, and advocating with integrity.

Applications will be accepted through 4:59 PM MST on the posting end date. 


Boise, Idaho. As Idaho’s capital, Boise is at the heart of a growing metropolitan area of approximately 800,000 and serves as a regional commercial center. Boise offers a rich variety of cultural and recreational opportunities, with fly-fishing, biking, skiing, kayaking, and hiking all within close proximity.


The State Appellate Public Defender (SAPD) consists of two distinct units. The Capital Litigation Unit (CLU) represents indigent clients who have been convicted of murder and sentenced to death. The CLU handles both post-conviction proceedings in the trial court and appeals before the Idaho Supreme Court. The Appellate Unit (AU) represents indigent clients in juvenile, misdemeanor, felony, and post-conviction appeals. 


Best Retirement Available In The Nation

The State of Idaho has one of the Nation’s best state retirement systems (PERSI) that offers a lifetime benefit.

Other Excellent Benefits

· Excellent low-cost medical, dental, and vision insurance – employee coverage for PPO $65/month for medical and vision and $11.80/month for dental (full-time);

· Generous vacation and sick leave accrual beginning as soon as you start;

· Paid parental leave;

· Eleven paid holidays per year;

· Multiple retirement savings plans, including optional 401K and Deferred Compensation plan;

· Group Life Insurance/Disability Insurance/Supplemental Life Insurance;

· Employee Assistance Program;

· Flexible Spending Accounts; and

· Wellness Programs.

 The State of Idaho offers a robust total compensation package. For additional information related to benefits and/or State programs, please visit:

    The SAPD is also a qualifying employer for the purposes of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF).


    Lead Counsel in the Capital Litigation Unit oversees team representation of capital clients. Each in-house team is composed of a lead attorney, second attorney, fact investigator, mitigation specialist, and administrative assistant. The team strives to zealously represent its indigent capital clients throughout post-conviction proceedings in the district court, through the reinvestigation and reimagination of both the merits and penalty phases of the case. If post-conviction proceedings are unsuccessful, the team represents the client in a unified direct/post-conviction appeal.

    Primary responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

    • Developing and maintaining healthy client relationships of mutual trust and respect, while encouraging clients to participate and contribute to their cases;
    • Directing and overseeing the substantive and procedural aspects of each case, in collaboration other unit members;
    • Directing the course of mitigation and fact investigations in each case, in collaboration with other unit members;
    • Working collaboratively with other unit members and experts to develop a cohesive post-conviction strategy;
    • Overseeing the identification and drafting of post-conviction issues;
    • Overseeing the identification and drafting of appellate issues;
    • Ensuring the timely filing of petitions, notices of appeals, and all other pleadings;
    • Assisting to identify and vet necessary expert and lay witnesses;
    • Working closely with other unit members to set realistic internal deadlines;
    • Conducting evidentiary hearings in state courts, and presenting oral arguments in appellate courts;
    • Tracking unit case statuses, along with all death-noticed cases throughout the state;
    • Overseeing the commitment and expenditure of funds for CLU cases;
    • Ensuring client loyalty by maintaining the team’s focus on the best interests of the client, and ensuring loyalty to former clients and facilitating the work of any successor counsel;
    • Supervising and mentoring other unit members;
    • Effectively managing personnel and unit caseloads to ensure tasks are completed in a timely and professional manner;
    • Traveling to courts, correctional institutions, and other locations within and outside the State of Idaho to attend court hearings and/or oral arguments, visit incarcerated clients, and conduct investigations;
    • Conducting annual evaluations and appraisals for other unit members; and
    • Depending on the desire and qualifications of the applicant, the applicant may also be a candidate to simultaneously serve as the chief of the Capital Litigation Unit.


      Lead Counsel must be licensed to practice law in the State of Idaho, or in the process of seeking admission to the Idaho State Bar. Lead counsel must be committed to following the ABA Guidelines for the Appointment and Performance of Defense Counsel in Death Penalty Cases and the Supplementary Guidelines for the Mitigation Function of Defense Teams in Death Penalty Cases (2003), as the minimum standards for high quality representation. Preference will be given to candidates who meet the qualifications for lead appellate/post-conviction counsel in death penalty cases as set forth in Idaho Criminal Rule 44.3 and IDAPA Trial experience is preferred. A valid driver’s license, reliable transportation, and the ability to travel within and outside the State of Idaho is required. Candidate must be proficient with Microsoft Office suite, including Outlook, Word, and Excel.


      Lead Counsel must have a commitment to working with indigent clients and to working as part of a client-centered defense team. It is essential that Lead Counsel have empathy and compassion towards clients and a dedication to advocacy on behalf of those sentenced to death. Excellent research, writing, and communication skills are essential. Substantial familiarity with civil procedure or post-conviction processes is preferred. Lead Counsel must be detail-oriented and able to exercise sound professional judgment. The ability to interact with diverse individuals, including but not limited to clients, their families, prosecutors, other attorneys, investigators, judges, court clerks, experts, fact witnesses, and members of the public, is essential.

      Lead Counsel must be able to manage an active caseload of at least three capital cases at various stages of proceedings in the district court and on appeal. Lead Counsel must be able to maintain client confidentiality and work independently with minimal supervision, or collaboratively with other team members, as the situation demands. Lead Counsel must be able to work occasional evenings and weekends to meet deadlines and hearing schedules. 


      Qualified applicants who would like to apply for this position must submit the following: 1) cover letter, 2) resume, 3) two letters of recommendation, and 4) two writing samples. Applicants whose law school graduation is within three years of the application must also submit copies of their law school transcripts (unofficial transcripts will be accepted). Application materials must be submitted no later than May 24, 2024, at 4:59 p.m. Application materials should be submitted through the Careers with the State of Idaho website,, and not directly to the agency. 

      For inquires on this position, please contact Rachel Murray, Office Administrator, at (208) 334-2712 or [email protected]


      The State of Idaho is committed to providing equal employment opportunities. Discrimination based on veteran status, disability, race, color, religion, political affiliation or belief, sex, national origin, genetics, or any other status protected under applicable federal, state, or local laws, is prohibited.

      The State of Idaho is committed to access and reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request. If you require an accommodation at any step in our recruitment process, you are encouraged to contact (208) 334-2263 (TTY/TTD: 711), or email [email protected].

      Preference may be given to veterans who qualify under state and federal laws and regulations.