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Regional Director of Youth Defense

Recruitment #23-005256-0001


The Maryland Office of the Public Defender (OPD) seeks a dynamic, dedicated leader to centralize OPD’s efforts to ensure holistic and comprehensive defense for young adults. True holistic and comprehensive defense for emerging adults requires consistency in representation that transcends the venue in which they are being adjudicated. This position aims to provide uniformity and consistency across the State of Maryland in the representation of children and emerging adults as they transition into the adult criminal justice system. OPD is committed to building a culturally diverse staff and strongly encourages people historically underrepresented in the practice of law to apply.


Our vision is for Justice, Fairness, and Dignity for All and we are committed to our core values of a culture of excellence, client-centered representation, and tenacious advocacy, and remain united as a team in achieving our mission. At OPD we use our legal education and experience to fight for justice and fairness, no matter what and we refuse to remain silent in the midst of human suffering. Our unique talents, identities, educational backgrounds, and perspectives guide us in representing our clients. We stand up against prejudice, systemic racism, and inequity in all of the spaces we occupy. OPD seeks candidates that will join us in providing compassionate, competent, zealous, and client-centered representation to all of our clients. Learn more about our mission and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.



Main Purpose of Job

The Regional Director of Youth Defense will serve as a resource to attorneys across the state by assisting in implementing best practices and providing professional development, hands-on training, and support. As a Lead Attorney, the Regional Director will be responsible, in Districts 2, 4, 11, 12, and/or other districts as needed establishing practice standards for handling Juvenile matters, Juvenile waivers, transfers, and clients aged 18 to 20 years of age (young adults). The Regional Director will be responsible for training attorneys in preparing and litigating juvenile matters, juvenile waivers, transfers, and cases with young adults in assigned districts. The Regional Director will also serve in an advisory capacity to Senior Leadership for the development of policies, procedures, and best practice standards for juvenile matters statewide.


Primary Duties and Responsibilities

Develops and assists in the implementation of best practices in emerging adult cases as well as complex waiver/transfer hearings across Maryland.

Provides support, training, and professional development for Assistant Public Defenders on the specific intricacies involved in the representation of emerging adults in criminal and juvenile courts. Including but limited to optimizing expert testimony, developing cohesive and effective mitigation strategies, and developing strong and productive client relationships.

Formalize collaborative relations with assigned Districts to standardize the practice in complex cases involving emerging adults or children charged with the most serious offenses.

Advise and assist attorneys with expert psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers in preparation for the transfer/waiver hearing.

Consult and partner with Assistant Public Defenders to develop case strategies, tactics, and motions for proceedings involving emerging adults as well as juvenile transfer/waiver hearings. 

Draft, litigate, and circulate comprehensive motions on issues specific to the representation of emerging adults in complex criminal proceedings.

Provide hands-on training and professional development for attorneys by collaborating and providing tandem representation in targeted cases involving emerging adults charged with serious offenses.

Case preparation including review of files, interviewing clients and witnesses, investigations, obtaining records and client history, legal research, analysis of evidence, and trial strategy.

Reviews cases, observes, and provides guidance as the second chair or in a consulting capacity to Assistant Public Defenders providing representation to emerging adults.

Conduct mock trials in preparation for trials, waiver/transfer hearings, and other proceedings involving emerging adults.

Actively participates in the Legislative Affairs Team advocating for OPD’s legislative agenda as it relates to the representation of juveniles and emerging adults in the criminal justice system.

Advises Administration, Juvenile Division Chiefs, Deputy District Public Defenders, and District Public Defenders on various policy matters and participates in various statewide committees.

Attends training sessions in compliance with OPD Continuing Legal Education Policy requirements.

Maintains an active caseload.

Coordinates attorney scheduling for the Youth Access to Counsel (YAC) hotline to ensure required coverage for weekdays, weeknights, weekends, and holidays.  Develops and provides training for attorneys statewide to serve on the YAC hotline. Resolves scheduling issues and provides notification to Human Resources to process payments for assigned shifts.

Other duties as assigned by the Public Defender or Deputy Public Defender.


Core Competencies and Requirements

    Demonstrated commitment to zealous and comprehensive defense practice, including the ability to represent clients in juvenile, criminal, and administrative hearings.

    Excellent research, writing, and oral advocacy skills.

    Knowledge, training, and experience related to adolescent development, neuroscience, education, mental health treatment, and best practices for juvenile rehabilitation.

    Criminal trial experience required including significant first chair felony jury trial experience in complex cases, representation of juveniles in delinquency matters, and experience handling transfer and waiver proceedings.

    Strong communication and interpersonal skills including the ability: (1) to train and develop attorneys through collaboration on cases and structured training programs; (2) to communicate effectively with children and adolescence; (3) to simplify and explain complex ideas, and (4) to communicate effectively with a range of audiences including people with different backgrounds, ages, and lived experiences.

    Clear dedication to upending systemic racism, prejudice, and unfairness in the criminal justice system.


    Collaborative work style with the ability to thrive in a fast-paced, diverse, team-oriented environment.

    Exceptional organizational, legal, and administrative skills necessary to manage multiple projects simultaneously.

    Active membership in good standing with the State of Maryland Bar or Bar of another State. Attorneys barred in another state must become members of the Maryland Bar within 18 months of the start date.


Education:   A Juris Doctorate degree or equivalent degree from an accredited school of law.

Experience: Experience as a practicing Attorney.


1. Candidates shall be an Attorney and admitted to practice law in the State by the Court of Appeals of Maryland, at the time of appointment.

2. The above requirements are set by the Office of the Public Defender in accordance with Criminal Procedure Article, Section 16-203 of the Annotated Code of Maryland.

3. Candidates may substitute U.S. Armed Forces military service experience as a commissioned officer in general attorney classification or general attorney specialty codes in the legal and kindred group field of work on a year-for-year basis for the required experience and education. 


If you wish to be considered, please click below to fill out the application and submit the following items in one PDF attachment through the Maryland State Government Job Openings Page Resume Tab: (1) a current resume, (2) a cover letter addressing the above qualifications, (3) a list of four professional references, and (4) writing sample. Incomplete applications will not be considered.


Assistant Public Defenders are full-time employees and cannot engage in the private practice of law while in this position. MD Code, Criminal Procedure Art., Section 16-203(d)(2).


As a State agency, the Maryland Office of the Public Defender (MOPD) is an affirmative action and equal opportunity employer. MOPD is committed to the full inclusion of all qualified individuals without regard to race, color, religion, sex, physical or mental disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, veteran status, or genetic information.


All applicants must be able to communicate with clients and visitors and possess the ability to complete tasks in a fast-paced work environment.  Applicants must be able to work in various positions and travel to various courtrooms and office environments throughout the state. MOPD is further committed to providing equal opportunity and reasonable accommodation for individuals with disabilities in employment, its services, programs, and activities by modifying or adjusting the job application process or the job or work environment to make reasonable accommodations to the known applicant or employee to enable the applicant or employee be considered for the position they desire; to perform the essential functions of the position in question; or to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment as are enjoyed by other similarly situated employees without disabilities, unless the accommodation imposes an undue hardship.


Applicants must be able to operate a computer and other office equipment. Applicants must have access to a motor vehicle or be able to navigate public transportation. If a reasonable accommodation is needed, please contact Tawanda Jackson, Human Resources Supervisor, at 410-767-8503 or


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