PUBLIC DEFENDER INVESTIGATOR
The Public Defender’s Office is seeking candidates for an exciting opportunity in their Investigator’s Division. Candidates will preferably have attained qualifications in Psychology related fields. This position will give the successful candidate the opportunity to creatively and expertly use their skills and learning in diverse and challenging environments.
Definition of Position:
Under general supervision, to perform skilled investigations, interview clients and witnesses, including building the client’s social history and gather evidence on behalf of indigents represented by the Office of the Public Defender.
Distinguishing Characteristics of Position:
Investigators work with Defense Counsel to investigate alleged crimes and possible defenses to those allegations for their clients. Clients may also be respondents in commitment proceedings in juvenile court or mental illness in superior court. Public Defender Investigators will interview both clients and witnesses and verify or corroborate information obtained. The social history of clients will be included in the investigation and will form part of the analysis and corroboration process. Investigators will then analyze and memorialize that information in regular reports to Public Defenders.
Typical Tasks of this Position:
- Interviews indigents represented by the Office of the Public Defender for detailed information relating to the case;
- Locates and interviews witnesses including law enforcement officials;
- Takes statements and depositions, collects data, reports findings, oral and written, in details, including synopsis of facts, dates, names, places, findings of arresting officers;
- Develops new facts and information;
- Initiates new areas of investigation;
- Develops sources of information including expert witnesses;
- Locates, views and retrieves tangible evidence, personal property and other relevant object or documents;
- Photographs crime scenes and evidence;
- Maintains files and information reference systems;
- Prepares reports and correspondence;
- Appears in court to testify as a witness;
Candidates for this position must hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology supplemented by courses in Administration of Justice and a demonstrated study in the area of forensic psychology. Candidates with degrees in Criminology, Penology, Sociology, or Journalism may also be considered.
Essential Demonstrated Abilities:
- Ability to gain trust, uncover vital information, earn credibility and fashion a coherent and persuasive plan to present to the court or the jury;
- Skilled in open and direct/indirect questioning techniques;
- Ability to liaise with clients and witnesses to create Genograms (Family Trees) and developmental history of clients;
- Ability to exhibit exceptional problem-solving skills;
- Ability to analyze problems and identify creative and unorthodox solutions to these problems;
- Strong social skills;
- Ability to easily and comfortably communicate with strangers;
- Strong oral and written communication skills and the ability to communicate articulately;
- Ability to gather, organize and evaluate data;
- Basic knowledge of computers and general software.
Beneficial Knowledge (not essential as training can be provided):
- Investigative techniques and procedures;
- The rules of evidence and of court procedures;
- The techniques of identifying, preserving and presenting evidence;
- The laws of arrest, search and seizure, service of legal process, and the legal rights of citizens;
- Understanding of other cultures and the challenges, they face in the Justice system.
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Public Defender Investigator Network, (2007). Training, Job Openings, Resources. Retrieved May 7, 2007
Tibensky, J, (May, 2004). Interviewing Tips. National Association of Sentencing Advocates. Retrieved May 7, 2007
Devitt, M., Honts, C., Vondergeest, L., (1997). Truth or Just Bias; The Treatment of Psychophysilogical Detection of Deception in Introductory Psychology Textbooks. Journal of Credibility Assessment and Witness Psychology, Vol 1, No. 1, pp. 9-32. Retrieved May 7, 2007