Job Descriptions

The statements contained in the job description are intended to describe the general nature and level of work being performed by individuals assigned to this position. They are not to be construed as an exhaustive list of all job requirements or duties performed. The job description does not constitute an employment agreement between the employer and employee and is subject to change by the employer as the needs of the employer and requirements of the job change.

To view job postings for open vacancies, please refer to the following link: Job Openings at St. Clair County.

Title: Public Defender
Department: Administrator/Controller Updated: 11/1/2019
Division: Office of the Public Defender FLSA Status: Exempt
Bargaining Unit: CANUE Wage Range: Not Available

Under the direction of the County Administrator, the Public Defender will maintain a caseload of high severity felonies. This position is tasked with providing mandated legal defense representation of indigent and partially indigent persons in criminal matters, while serving as a counterpart to state, county, city, village and township prosecutors throughout the courts in the county. The selected candidate will use considerable independent discretion at all times as the County Public Defender to ensure that the constitutional rights of all indigent and partially indigent persons are upheld and protected, and that due process is implemented fairly, equally, equitably and consistently in the pursuit of justice.

  • Develops and implements long and short term goals, objectives, policies, procedures and work standards for the department to include in particular the establishment and direction of programs to maximize operational effectiveness and cost efficiencies.
  • Plans, organizes, assigns, directs, reviews and evaluates the work of public defender attorneys and support staff; selects staff personnel and provides for their training and professional development; counsels and disciplines as necessary; interprets laws, regulations, and county policies for subordinates; confers with subordinate supervisors and other department staff to monitor activities; coordinates work effort and resolve problems and issues unique to the public defender attorney staff; provides professional assistance to staff.
  • Develops and implements programs to assess, meet or exceed mandated standards adopted as requirement by the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission (MDIC), American Bar Association (ABA), the State Bar of Michigan (SBM) and the Michigan Supreme Court for competent legal defense services.
  • Provides professional assistance to staff, other County departments and public and private organizations including meetings with appointed and elected governmental officials, civic leaders and others.
  • Reviews or supervises the review of criminal investigations to determine adequacy of evidence to justify searches, seizures and the authorization of charges by the prosecution; directs public defender attorneys in gathering and analyzing case evidence, preparing arguments, filing necessary documents, and presenting cases in court; assigns cases to attorneys, reviews progress, and provides technical assistance and guidance; directs the maintenance of accurate legal materials, reports, correspondence and other written materials; substitutes for public defender attorneys as necessary.
  • Approves pre-trial investigations, motions, polygraph examinations and expert witnesses while directing the defense of all criminal cases including in particular those that are the most complex or sensitive criminal cases, to include appearance in court to substitute personally as needed.
  • Actively collaborates, coordinates and/or directs programs designed to reduce recidivism through effective rehabilitation of convicted criminals.
  • Keeps informed of legal precedents and relevant legislation by reading professional journals, court rulings, conferring with legislators and attending meetings, seminars and conferences.
  • Direct the preparation and administration of the department’s budget and monitors expenditures to ensure that they are within budget guidelines.
  • May speak before groups regarding the criminal justice system and the constitutionally mandated role of the defense.
  • Performs other duties as assigned.

Supervision is exercised directly by the Administrator/Controller.


Exercises direct supervision of all employees of the Public Defenders Office.


·         Juris Doctorate degree or Bachelor of Laws degree with a Certificate of Admittance to the State Bar as evidence of continued good professional standing and authority to practice law throughout the state of Michigan.

·         A minimum of ten (10) years of experience in the practice of criminal law (either as a prosecutor, public defender, or in private criminal defense), including a minimum of five years of progressively more responsible experience in the administrative supervision of legal services.

·         Knowledge of criminal law, the judicial system, court practices and procedures.

·         Has served as lead counsel in no fewer than seven (7) felony jury trials that have been submitted to a jury.

·         A significant record of consistently high quality criminal trial court representation and the ability to handle a life offense case.

·         Ability to communicate effectively and efficiently with management, co-workers and clients; obtain and communicate accurate information; apply common sense understanding to complex instructions and respond accordingly;  communicate complex ideas through graphs, charts, presentations, reports or other professional correspondence.    

  • Manage and direct departmental operations, including budgeting, strategic planning. Knowledge of and interpret applicable federal, state and local regulations. Develop, apply and explain department and County procedure and policies. Plan and coordinate work staff activities, prioritize, instruct, set deadlines, objectives, measure success, and make recommendations and resolve issues. Methods of research, planning, conducting and implementing major studies or projects. Design and recommend new forms, reports or procedures. Ability to understand and work in complex data processing system, analyze data and exercise sound financial judgment. Analyze administrative problems, evaluate alternatives and implement sound solutions. Prepare and present reports, speeches or training programs to groups. Provide training and guidance in handling difficult or complex problems or resolving escalated complaints or disputes. Work independently with limited direct supervision. Coordinate activities with other departments.  

·         Ability to demonstrate predictable, reliable, and timely attendance.               

·         Ability to read, write & communicate in English; follow written and verbal instruction and understand basic mathematics and figure checking.                

·         Ability to interpret and apply procedures, rules, technical information, instructions, manuals to complete tasks accurately and on schedule.                                     

·         Ability to learn from directions, observations, and mistakes; and apply procedures using good judgement.                                                                      

·         Ability to use discretion and maintain sensitive and confidential information.   

·         Ability to work independently or part of a team; ability to interact appropriately with others such as County officials, employees, vendors and the general public.

·         Ability to work under supervision, receiving instructions/feedback, coaching/counseling and/or action/discipline.                                            

·         Adaptability to change in the work environment, managing competing demands and ability to deal with frequent changes, delays or unexpected events.

·         Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services including customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction

  • Proficient skills using Microsoft Office programs including, but not limited to: Word, Excel, Access, and Outlook as required.  Proficiency may be tested.
  • Prior to starting employment, the candidate must complete a satisfactory background check.  The background check is understood to encompass all forms of pre-employment screening, including but not limited to: drug screen, physical, criminal background, driving record, sex offender registry, education, training and licensing verification, employment history, credit check, and professional and personal references.

·         Possess a valid State of Michigan Operator’s License and maintain eligibility to drive as per the County’s vehicle policy throughout employment in this position.

·         The Public Defender shall not participate in any private practice of law.


The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job with or without accommodations.  Reasonable accommodations will be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.


While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to:

·         Speak to others to convey information effectively.

·         Read, interpret and understand procedures, rules, technical information, instructions and manuals.

·         Hear and understand information presented through spoken words and sentences.

·         Specific vision requirement includes close vision, distance vision, color and depth perception.

·         Use hands to operate a computer, handle materials and operate equipment.

·         Push or pull carts, reach with hands and arms forward, above and below shoulder level.

·         Lift, move or carry objects, equipment and supplies weighing up to 25 pounds.

·         Sit, bend, stoop, crouch, crawl and kneel in an ergonomically correct manner.

·         Stand and walk, climb stairs.

·         Normal office hours are from 8:00 a.m. through 4:30 p.m.

·         Generally works in a normal office environment.

·         The noise level in the work environment is moderate with many interruptions.




It is the policy of St. Clair County not to discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, marital status, disability that does not prevent performing essential job functions or because he or she is a protected veteran.


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Contact Information

Human Resources
200 Grand River Avenue, Ste. 206
Port Huron, MI 48060

Phone: (810) 989-6910
Fax: (810) 985-3493
Email: Human Resources