Policy Attorney (Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center)
Southern Methodist University Inc

Dallas, Texas



Salary commensurate with experience and qualifications.

About Us

Person-Centered. Data-Driven.
The Deason Center brings a Stats and Stories approach to criminal legal reform. The Stats: We collect, analyze, and assess the hard data that drive smart, sane, and sensible criminal justice reform. The Stories: We uncover, recount, and amplify the stories of people who live, work, and struggle in our criminal justice system. Together, our Stats and Stories make a compelling case for change.

Job Summary

The Policy Attorney will support the Senior Project Attorney in implementing the Deason Center's two-year campaign to challenge delayed and uncounseled first appearances and eliminate prolonged post-arrest delays in the filing of formal charges.

This is a two-year grant funded position.

Essential Functions

  • Assist in the Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center's campaign to end injustice in initial appearance and formal charging. Working with the Director and the Senior Policy Attorney, identify advocacy sites, create local partnerships, and implement advocacy plans.
  • Produce reports and policy papers about initial appearance and formal charging. Research and develop the substantive components of a comprehensive website that maps initial appearance and formal charging practices across the United States and its territories. Develop a series of one-page "know your state" publications.
  • Assist the Director, Senior Policy Director, and Advisory Board in creating a litigation blueprint that will advance the constitutional rights to (1) a prompt, thorough, and counseled initial appearance, (2) a prompt post-arrest formal charging decision, and (3) the assistance of counsel and access to discovery before formal charging.
  • Support litigation of test cases in individual criminal cases in two jurisdictions. Drawing on lessons learned from the test litigation, support a Class Action Partner in developing and filing impact litigations in those jurisdictions,.
  • Organize and manage a series of educational webinars about the initial appearance, counsel at first appearance, and the importance of prompt charging decisions.


Education and Experience

A Juris Doctor and a minimum of two (2) years of experience is required for this position. Demonstrated commitment to criminal justice reform and experience in criminal courts preferred.

Adminission in good standing in at least one state strongly preferred.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

The ideal candidate will demonstrate good judgment ahd the ability to handle confidential information, work with many different constituencies (judges, lawyers, stakeholders, staff), meet deadlines, and juggle competing priorities.

Candidate should have strong written, verbal, and interpesonal communication skills. A customer service orientation is key. Problem solving, time management, and project management skills are all required for this role.

Organizational and planning skills and attention to detail are must.

Proficiency with Microsoft Office products is required.

Physical and Environmental Demands
  • Bend, Stand
  • Handle Objects (Dexterity)
  • Sit for long periods of time.
Deadline to Apply

Priority consideration will be given to those who apply by 08/01/2021.

This position is open until filled.

COVID Vaccination

SMU must comply with President Biden's Executive Order (EO) 14042 requiring those that receive federal contracts and their employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, unless they apply for and are granted an exemption for religious or medical reasons.

For more information regarding this requirement, please visit our website.

EEO Statement

SMU will not discriminate in any program or activity on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, genetic information, veteran status, sexual orientation, or gender identity and expression. The Executive Director for Access and Equity/Title IX Coordinator is designated to handle inquiries regarding nondiscrimination policies and may be reached at the Perkins Administration Building, Room 204, 6425 Boaz Lane, Dallas, TX 75205, 214-768-3601, accessequity@smu.edu.

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