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Assistant federal public defenders enforce the United States Constitution’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel by representing those charged with a crime who cannot afford an attorney. More than 80 federal defender organizations located in every state employ the assistants according to the Criminal Justice Act. Assistants are appointed by the court to provide representation in federal criminal cases and related matters.
The assistant federal public defender
- provides legal representation to clients charged with federal criminal offenses or involved in other matters mandated by the Act;
- meets with clients to establish meaningful attorney-client relationships;
- directs the defense investigation of alleged crimes or offenses;
- researches case law;
- prepares pretrial motions;
- reviews material received from the government as pretrial discovery; engages in plea negotiations;
- determines trial strategies and defense approaches that affect jury selection, opening statements and closing arguments, client testimony, and cross-examination of witnesses;
- conducts sentencing investigations and prepares sentencing memoranda, and represents client at sentencing hearings;
- prepares post-trial motions; and
- represents clients at trial, on appeal, and in other courtroom proceedings.
Requirements for the assistant federal public defender position include a law school degree and admission and good standing before the federal bar, combined with state bar admission and good standing.