Death Penalty Law Clerk


Position: Death Penalty Law Clerk
Initial appointment through December 31, 2015. Position may continue beyond initial appointment pending additional funding allocation.

Number of Vacancies: One part-time position, 20 hours per week

Vacancy #s: 14-05

Salary Range: Part-time salary is JSP 11-01 ($28,991) to JSP 14-10 ($63,474)
Depending upon experience, qualifications and bar membership

Location: Columbia, South Carolina, with travel to divisional offices as necessary

Opening Date: July 11, 2014

Closing Date: July 18, 2014

Performs legal research and drafts appropriate recommendations and orders for the Court’s signature in regards to motions for stays of execution, jurisdiction, scheduling, exhaustion of remedies, discovery, motions for evidentiary hearing, disposition on the merits and certificates of probable cause. Performs substantive screening of federal habeas corpus petitions dealing with state and federal court death penalty cases. Informs the court as to filing of death penalty cases and execution dates. Reviews motions for appointment of counsel, helps the court identify and appoint competent counsel for indigent petitioners, and reviews and advises the court on all non-dispositive motions. Schedules with petitioners and the State, reviews state court records, researches applicable law, and prepares all necessary orders, including case-dispositive memorandum opinions and orders disposing of post-judgment matters such as Certificates of Appealability. There will also be work that is not related to a specific case such as coordination of the court’s cases, general research, and general consultations with other government agencies regarding the district’s cases or procedures. Maintains liaison between the Court and litigants; corresponds with other court officials. Evaluates procedures. Compiles statistics and prepares periodic reports which reflect the status and flow of cases, as required. Identifies problem areas, makes recommendations, and offers solutions, as required. Keeps abreast of changes in the law to aid the Court in adjusting to new case law and legislation. Provides information, guidance, and advice to judges, magistrates, and other personnel. Performs other duties as assigned.

The death penalty law clerk will work throughout the district with various judges and their staff to whom the death penalty cases are assigned. For administrative purposes, the death penalty law clerk will report to and work under the direction of the chief judge as to coordination and prioritization of work among chambers.

To qualify for the position of Death Penalty Law Clerk, an individual must be a law school graduate (or be certified as having completed all law school studies and requirements and be merely awaiting conferment of degree).

• Prior legal experience or legal practice in fields dealing with death penalty law is highly desirable; for example, experience working in a state attorney general office or capital case defender office.
• Standing within the upper quarter (25%) of the class upon graduation from law school.
• Experience in planning and organizing work, establishing priorities, and working independently.
• An understanding of federal habeas corpus law and proficiency in the use of LexisNexis and Westlaw.
• Outstanding legal research/writing skills. Ability to communicate clearly, concisely and informatively both orally and in writing. Experience in reviewing documents and extracting data.
• Proficient computer skills, internet research, and word processing skills.

Health, Life, Dental, Vision, Long-Term Care, and Long-Term Disability insurance, Flexible Spending Account, and Thrift Savings Account are available.

The Court reserves the right to modify the conditions of this job announcement, or to withdraw the announcement, any of which may occur without prior written or other notice. Only qualified applicants will be considered for this position. Participation in the interview process will be at the applicant’s own expense and relocation expenses will not be provided. As a condition of employment, the selected candidate will be subject to an FBI fingerprint and background check. All information provided by applicants is subject to verification and background investigation. Applicants must be either United States citizens or eligible to work for the United States government.

Qualified persons interested in being considered are invited to submit a cover letter detailing related experience and accomplishments, a resume, Application for Judicial Branch Employment (AO-78), which can be found at under Forms & Fees, and list at least three (3) professional references, including name and current contact information.

If your application packet does not provide all information requested, you may not be considered for this position.

Only applicants selected to proceed to the next phase of the selection process will be notified. Unsuccessful applicants will not receive notice.

All application materials must be received in our office by 4:30 p.m. on Friday, July 18, 2014, and are to be sent to:

United States District Court
Attn: Sallie F. Dixon
Matthew J. Perry, Jr. Courthouse
901 Richland Street
Columbia, SC 29201

Interviews will commence in Columbia during the week of July 21.


Employees are required to adhere to the Code of Conduct for Judicial Employees which is available to applicants to review upon request. Employees of the U.S. District Court are “Excepted Service Appointments.” Excepted service appointments are at-will and can be terminated with or without cause by the court. Employees are required to use the Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) for payroll deposit. The United States District Court is an equal opportunity employer.