Serving the Southern District of Indiana


We're here to help

 Security code

Joseph Cleary

Joseph Cleary
Assistant Federal Defender

A recent addition to the Indiana Federal Community Defenders, Joe brings with him a history of passionate dedication to public service. Upon his graduation from law school, Joe joined the Indiana State Public Defenders Office where he specialized in post-conviction relief in death penalty cases. Spurred on by this experience, Joe started his own practice in 1995 which focused exclusively on criminal defense work. Joe has broad criminal experience ranging from criminal trials and appeals to post-conviction and habeas corpus work. In 2000, Joe took on a habeas corpus case for Jerry Watkins. Charged with the death penalty and convicted in 1986, Jerry maintained his innocence. Joe’s passionate advocacy led to charges being dropped, Jerry’s exoneration and release from prison in 2000. The office of the Indiana Federal Community Defenders is proud to welcome Joe to the team.
For more on the Jerry Watkins case, see:
J.D., Indiana University Maurer School of Law, 1988
B.A., Government and International Affairs, Notre Dame University, 1985
Hometown City/State:
Indianapolis, Indiana
Civic Activities:
Immaculate Heart of Mary Athletic Commission, 2008-2010
Little League Coach, 2004-2008
Honors and Awards:
Gideon Award, Indiana Public Defender Council, 2001
Indiana Super Lawyer, 2004-2006