January 10, 2017 at 10:03 am

CLJC Spotlights Political Science Alum | Gibson Prosecutes at State and Federal Level

Joseph Gibson

Joseph Gibson

Center for Law, Justice & Culture Alumni Spotlight


Joseph Gibson

Joseph Gibson is an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney and Special Assistant United States Attorney living in Columbus, OH.

An Ohio University (BA POLS ’05) and Capital University Law School Graduate (’08), he began his career at the Franklin County Prosecutors Office while in law school as a law clerk.  Upon graduation, Gibson has worked in the felony division of the office, prosecuting everything from aggravated murder to forgeries. Much of his focus in his career as a prosecutor has been on cases involving organized criminal activity, such as RICO and street gang cases requiring complex investigation, including wiretaps.

Gibson is assigned the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, which is made up of federal and local law enforcement agents and investigates domestic and international terrorism. In his role as a Special Assistant United States Attorney in the U.S. Southern District of Ohio, Gibson is part of a team that prosecutes national security cases in federal court. He is a recipient of the Columbus Division of Police’s Meritorious Public Service Award.

What brought you to Ohio University?

My mother is an OHIO Alum (’72), and she took me for a visit while I was in high school. I fell in love with the campus and the school and never gave serious consideration to going anywhere else.

What is your current occupation? Explain what you do in a typical day.

I am an Assistant County Prosecutor for Franklin County, Ohio and a Special Assistant United States Attorney (SAUSA) for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Ohio, which includes Columbus. In my role at Franklin County, I prosecute adult felony crimes that include everything from forgeries up to aggravated murder cases. I have spent much of my career, however, focusing on long term investigations into more complex crimes, including racketeering. I spend nearly every morning in Common Pleas Court, where I typically have four to five cases set for either trial or pretrial each day. Typically the morning is spent engaging in plea negotiations with defense attorneys in each case and then deciding whether to enter a plea, continue the case, or begin trial. Generally if we choose trial, we try to pick a date in the future that works best for each side. Afternoons are spent generally in the office preparing my cases or in meetings with law enforcement agents about ongoing investigations.

I am also assigned to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and prosecute cases investigated by them both in state and federal court. As a SAUSA, I am part of a team that prosecutes national security cases in federal court.

How did you become interested in that field? Was there a particular topic or field of law that got you interested in it in the first place?

Like many attorneys, I did not go into law school with a specific field in mind. During my first year, I got a job as a legal intern at the prosecutor’s office and became really interested in criminal law. My father is an attorney who practices worker’s compensation and employment law, and I have a few uncles who practice various types of law, so I had a lot of exposure to law in general. I was surprised to learn throughout law school how many of the things I was interested in before law school ended up being my least favorite subjects to study.

What’s your favorite part of your position? What are you passionate about?

My favorite part of the job is being in a courtroom every day and getting to try cases several times a year. The practice of criminal law more than anything requires daily interaction with people from all walks of life. As a prosecutor, I talk to victims of crime, law enforcement, my colleagues of the defense bar and court staff on a daily basis. The people are what make the job interesting and fun. I have the privilege of representing the state and the United States in court and am passionate about doing my best to prosecute cases fairly and justly.

How did your Ohio University experience prepare you for law school and shape your career path?

Ohio University offered an exceptional variety of classes and extracurricular opportunities. I was a member of student government while there and studied political science and classics but took a number of classes across a broad spectrum of subjects, which allowed me to learn things and meet people that helped shape my career path.

What do you think most important things you did as an undergrad to get you prepared for law school?

Try to build a study routine and work on self-discipline. Law school requires countless hours of studying, reading and preparation. Trying out different study methods to see what is most effective and trying to get on a routine will help one go far in law school.

Do you have any advice for students interested in law?

Take a variety of classes in college and focus on grades. The curriculum in law school covers everything from criminal law to probate to corporations, so it is helpful to have a well-rounded academic background to pull from. Good grades are nearly equally as important to law schools as LSAT scores, so be sure to focus on achieving them.

What is your favorite Ohio University memory?

I loved my time at Ohio University and began many lifelong friendships there. No single moment stands out, but my favorite memories are those spent with the people I met in Athens.

Anything else you would like to share?

Both in law school and in the courthouse, Bobcats seem to find each other and instantly bond. There is not a prouder group of alumni in the country and I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of it.

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