Biography of Joseph T. Deters

Joe Deters began his legal career in 1982 as an Assistant Hamilton County Prosecutor while working in the Juvenile, Municipal, and Common Pleas Courts, he learned first-hand the impact violent crime has on families and neighborhoods. 

After six years as an assistant Prosecutor, Joe was elected to the position of Hamilton County Clerk of Courts in 1988, honing his skills as the manager of a large office while Clerk and gaining the respect of other officeholders and the community.

In 1992, Joe returned to the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office when he was appointed and, later that year, elected Prosecuting Attorney. Through his tireless efforts prosecuting tough cases and society’s most violent offenders, Joe garnered a reputation as a no-nonsense prosecutor of violent crime and became a key figure in making Hamilton County safer.  Joe never lost sight of the victims in cases he prosecuted and he knew more needed to be done to help victims navigate the legal system.  It was then that he started the first victim/witness advocate program in the history of Hamilton County.  Joe was subsequently re-elected in 1996 and continued to vigorously pursue his goal of making Hamilton County a safer place to live and work.

In 1999, Joe was sworn in as Ohio’s 44th Treasurer of State where he was responsible for collecting, managing and investing more than $11 billion in assets for the State of Ohio. During his six year tenure, the Ohio Treasurer’s Office received 23 national awards for innovation and technology and earned interest on investments faster than any previous administration.

In the fall of 2004, Joe returned to Hamilton County to once again run for Prosecuting Attorney. He was elected with nearly 60% of the vote. He has been subsequently reelected in 2008, 2012 and 2016.

As Hamilton County’s longest serving Prosecuting Attorney (1992-1999 and 2005-present), Joe currently oversees and manages an office of over 180 employees (both criminal and civil divisions), which includes assistant prosecuting attorneys and support staff. The office prosecutes felony and misdemeanor crimes committed by adults and all offenses committed by juveniles. The office also serves by statute, as the legal counsel for all county officials, county agencies, townships and various boards.

As Hamilton County Prosecutor, Joe has been a driving force behind the following important changes in state law intended to better protect Ohio citizens:

  • Led the passage of the Daly Bill, which recognizes an unborn child as a person under Ohio’s Criminal Code.
  • Reduction in time and money to complete litigation in death-penalty cases
  • Creation of a statewide DNA database
  • Repeal of the 15 year cap on maximum prison terms
  • Permit certain violent juveniles to be incarcerated until age 21
  • Allow judges to consider a defendant’s threat to the community when setting bail
  • Made the purposeful murder of a child under the age of 13 a death penalty eligible offense

Joe also believes that criminal justice resources are best spent prosecuting the most violent offenders. In 2005, Joe created the Sex Offender Unit.  This unit within the Prosecutor’s Office works closely with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department to ensure sex offenders residing and working in Hamilton County are registered properly and when they are not, prosecuting those offenders for failing to comply with Ohio Law.  They also pursue violations for residing to close to a school or day care.  He has established diversion programs that allow first time non-violent offenders to avoid jail time by paying restitution, performing community service or completely drug treatment. Additionally, Joe has supported the creation of multiple specialized courts including Veterans’ Court, Drug Court, Change Court for victims of human trafficking, and most recently, Mental Health Court.

Joe is a lifelong Cincinnatian, graduating from St. Xavier High School in 1975, from the University of Cincinnati in 1979, and finally from the University of Cincinnati College of Law in 1982.  Joe is a member of the Cincinnati Bar Association, National District Attorney’s Association, the Ohio Prosecuting Attorney’s Association, and continues to serve on the New St. Joseph’s Cemetery Board of Trustees.  Previously, Joe served on the University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees, Ohio Organized Crime Commission, and the Southern Ohio Leukemia Foundation. Joe is a proud father of four children.