INDIANAPOLIS -- To enhance his office's emphasis on partnerships with criminal justice and law enforcement, Attorney General Greg Zoeller today appointed Gary Damon Secrest as the new chief deputy of the Indiana Attorney General's Office.
For the past nine years, Secrest has been a deputy attorney general and chief counsel of the Attorney General's Appeals Division which represents the State in appellate courts and seeks to prevent offenders from getting their convictions or sentences overturned. In that role he advised the Attorney General on all appellate matters.
In his new duties as chief deputy AG, Secrest will guide the legal team of the office, leading 144 state government attorneys. Specifically, Secrest will work closely with county prosecutors, police officers and others in the criminal justice system to ensure that law enforcement's needs and concerns are addressed by the Attorney General's Office.
"I often have said that prosecutors put criminals in jail and it's the role of the Attorney General's Office to keep them in jail by opposing their attempts at appeal. Gary Secrest has been instrumental in our efforts to protect crime victims and represent the criminal justice system and state government generally," Zoeller said. "Having served as chief deputy myself, I know that Gary is the right attorney for the job."
In his new capacity, Secrest will build upon his years of experience working with prosecutors, police, sheriffs, victims' rights organizations, the Department of Correction, public defenders and other stakeholders in striving for fairness in Indiana's statutes and legal procedure in trial courts and appellate courts.
"It is the most fundamental role of government to provide for public safety. Our system of justice protects citizens in a rapidly evolving landscape of new legal precedents that more sharply hone the law with advancements in forensic technology that enhance the ability to solve crimes," Secrest said. "My charge will be to serve those who protect all of us: police, prosecutors and the courts in the criminal justice system."
Secrest was sworn in as chief deputy today during a ceremony at the Statehouse attended by numerous prosecutors, judges, state agency heads, deputy attorneys general, law school faculty, family, friends and guests.
A sixth-generation Hoosier, Secrest, 51, is an Indianapolis native and alumnus of Lawrence North High School, Butler University and Indiana University School of Law in Indianapolis. He first joined the Attorney General's Office in 1984 as a law clerk during the tenure of Attorney General Linley Pearson, and served as a deputy attorney general in the Appeals Division from 1985 to 1993.
Secrest returned to the Attorney General's Office in 2001 during Attorney General Steve Carter's administration, serving as chief counsel of the Appeals Division where he supervised the attorneys who represent the State before the Indiana Court of Appeals, Indiana Supreme Court and the federal courts.
During his two tours of duty with the Attorney General's Office, Secrest oversaw the first DNA criminal appeal in Indiana, briefed the State's case in Mike Tyson's appeal of his conviction and later handled the appeal of the 2003 mayoral election in East Chicago, in which the Indiana Supreme Court ordered a new election.
In between his years of service with the AG's Office, Secrest also held other important roles in government: chief deputy state treasurer, fund administrator for the Public Deposit Insurance Fund and assistant corporation counsel of the Litigation Division of the City of Indianapolis.
Zoeller previously was chief deputy attorney general to former Attorney General Steve Carter for eight years, until Zoeller was elected Indiana's 42nd attorney general in 2008. The position of chief deputy attorney general had been vacant since January 2009 as Zoeller evaluated the needs of the office and decided to place a high-profile focus on law enforcement and the criminal justice system by appointing Secrest to that role. Secrest will remain the Ethics Officer for the AG's Office.
Succeeding Secrest as chief counsel of the Appeals Division is Deputy Attorney General Steve Creason. Since 2004, Creason has been chief of the AG's Habeas Corpus and Capital Litigation Section, where he represented the State in all appeals of death-penalty and life-without-parole cases, post-trial. Creason also represented the State in all federal habeas corpus challenges to convictions, filed in capital cases and non-capital cases alike.
In his new capacity, Creason, 34, now will oversee appeals of all criminal cases as well as appeals of any civil cases where the State is a party, such as those involving Indiana government agencies. An alumnus of Warren Central High School, Wabash College and Indiana University School of Law in Indianapolis, Creason joined the Attorney General's Office in 1999. He also served as a U.S. Supreme Court Fellow in 2005, and he and his family live in McCordsville, Ind.
"Steve Creason and Gary Secrest have been a remarkable team in ensuring the State so often prevails in cases on appeal," Zoeller said. "Both of them deserve these promotions and both will do an exemplary job for the citizens of Indiana."
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