Newly created Jefferson County Public Defender Office advertises job openings

By Kent Faulk | kfaulk@al.com 
February 19, 2013 at 6:15 PM

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Jefferson County Public Defender Kira Fonteneau this afternoon announced she is looking to fill the first three positions for the newly created office that will defend poor clients against criminal charges in the Birmingham division of the county’s court system.

Fonteneau issued job descriptions for deputy public defender, office administrator, and information technology specialist. She said he plans to hire one administrator and one IT specialist and at least two deputy public defenders. The people hired for those jobs will help in planning for renovations and equipping office space, she said.

“This (the jobs) is a step in the right direction,” Fonteneau said.

A deputy public defender must be a lawyer and have the ability to serve in the absence of the public defender and manage day-to-day operations, according to the job description. The salary range for that job will be $69,098 to $105,403.

The IT specialist salary range is $43,339 to $76,348 and the office administrator $38,000 to $65,000 a year.

Here are links to the full job descriptions and benefits:

Deputy Public Defender

IT Specialist

Office Administrator

Eventually, Fonteneau said, the office will include 68 employees. That will include 39 attorneys, plus a support staff that includes investigators, docket clerks, paralegals and social workers, she said.

Fonteneau said no target date has been set for opening the office.

Fonteneau, a Birmingham attorney, was chosen in November to lead the newly created office.

As the public defender, Fonteneau will lead the team of as-yet-to-be-hired lawyers in representing poor criminal defendants charged in the Birmingham division of Jefferson County’s court system and who otherwise can’t afford an attorney. The Bessemer Cutoff division will continue to appoint local attorneys to represent indigent clients.

While some defendants do hire their own attorneys, 90 percent or more of the defendants are considered indigent and can’t pay for their own lawyers, Fonteneau said.

A move to begin a public defender office took off under a 2011 Alabama indigent defense law that provides for an indigent defense advisory board in each circuit or each county. That board is made up of the presiding judge, local bar chairman and lawyers for three at-large positions. The board decides whether indigent defense be provided on a case-by-case appointment of local lawyers or through a public defender office.

Judges in the Birmingham division currently appoint local attorneys to defend indigent criminal defendants. The attorneys are paid by the state for their work.
Newly created Jefferson County Public Defender Office advertises job openings

About Aaron Law Firm

Aaron Law Firm handles criminal cases in city, state and federal courts in the state of Alabama. If you are accused of a crime it has to be taken seriously, even accusation of a crime can have serious effect on many different areas of your life. If it is a DUI or something more serious it has to be taken as a threat to your freedom. After you have been accused of a crime, you should always consult a lawyer before talking to the authorities . Seek immediate legal counsel and make sure your rights are protected.

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