Assistant Attorney General – Federal Habeas Corpus Division

The Federal Habeas Corpus Division defends state criminal judgments when challenged in federal court through petitions for writ of habeas corpus filed under 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241 and/or 2254.  Federal habeas corpus review is the third step in Tennessee’s three-tier review process for state criminal convictions, following the direct appeal and the state-court post-conviction review process.  The division’s attorneys handle federal habeas corpus cases at the trial and appellate court levels, and they cover both capital and non-capital cases.  As needed, they advise and work with staff members from the district attorney general offices, the Tennessee Department of Correction, and the Tennessee Board of Parole, on matters related to federal habeas corpus review.  They work closely with this Office’s victim liaisons so as to maintain victim involvement in the division’s cases.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Division attorneys collect and review state-court records, prepare those records for electronic filing in federal district court, and craft substantive responses to habeas corpus petitions under those records and prevailing law.  They respond to motions filed in pending litigation, including motions to amend petitions, for discovery, and for evidentiary hearings.  In turn, division attorneys engage in discovery and conduct evidentiary hearings when the district courts authorize these.
  • Division attorneys research a wide range of legal issues, including federal constitutional law, federal habeas corpus law, and state criminal law and procedure.  They are expected to utilize strong and persuasive legal writing skills in all filings and communications.
  • Division attorneys must have effective time management skills while carrying fast-paced caseloads with multiple, overlapping court deadlines.  They generally work independently on their assigned cases, but they also work as members of larger teams on some of the Office’s more involved cases.
  • Division attorneys are expected to work seamlessly and well with both support staff and leadership staff.  This includes positively receiving and engaging the constructive feedback provided by leadership staff, who in turn strive to foster an open and supportive atmosphere for training, direction, and formation.

Minimum Qualifications:

  • Juris Doctorate degree and Tennessee bar admission, or ability to apply for admission without examination.
  • Strong written and oral communication skills.
  • Solid legal research skills.
  • Ability to become proficient in Microsoft Word, Adobe Acrobat Professional, and general online records management.
  • Openness to pro se prisoner litigation and to capital litigation.
  • Interest in criminal law and procedure.

To Apply:

Application materials can be submitted via our online applicant portal or by email using Attorneys should include a cover letter, resume, law school transcript, contact information for at least 3 references, and a legal writing sample. The writing sample should be no more than 10 pages but an excerpt of a larger document can be submitted if the attorney applicant was the primary author.

Pursuant to the State of Tennessee’s Workplace Discrimination and Harassment policy, the State is firmly committed to the principle of fair and equal employment opportunities for its citizens and strives to protect the rights and opportunities of all people to seek, obtain, and hold employment without being subjected to illegal discrimination and harassment in the workplace. It is the State’s policy to provide an environment free of discrimination and harassment of an individual because of that person’s race, color, national origin, age (40 and over), sex, pregnancy, religion, creed, disability, veteran’s status or any other category protected by state and/or federal civil rights laws. Offers for this position may be contingent on a satisfactory criminal history check.