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Governor Appoints Secretary of Public Safety to Virginia Court of Appeals

October 2, 2013 | Virginia News

News Image Marla Graff Decker Will Join Court in November; Announcement of New Secretary of Public Safety to be Made in Days Ahead

RICHMOND - Governor Bob McDonnell announced today that he is appointing Virginia Secretary of Public Safety Marla Graff Decker to the Court of Appeals of Virginia. Secretary Decker will fill the seat left vacant by the recent retirement of Judge Larry Elder. Judge Elder's retirement was announced on September 4th. Decker will join the Court in November. An announcement regarding the Governor's selection of a new Secretary of Public Safety will be made in the days ahead.

In appointing Secretary Decker, Governor McDonnell issued the following statement:

"It would be impossible to overstate the incredible passion for public service possessed by Secretary Marla Decker. Anyone who has ever met her knows she lives to serve the Commonwealth and to help others. She has dedicated her life to serving our community. With nearly 20 years of service representing the Commonwealth before state and federal courts, I cannot think of a more qualified and more worthy individual to fill this vacancy on the Court of Appeals of Virginia.

"Marla joined the Office of the Attorney General in 1983 under then Attorney General Jerry Baliles. She came to the office straight out of law school at T.C. Williams and began to work from the ground up on public safety matters. During my time as attorney general she served as Deputy Attorney General for the Public Safety and Enforcement Division. During her years in the Office of the Attorney General she either personally handled or supervised hundreds of cases before the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of Virginia as well as federal courts in the Commonwealth. In addition to supervising the work of the appellate and special prosecutions sections of the Office, she advised me and former attorneys general on matters including juvenile justice reform, legal aspects relating to the writ of actual innocence, and just compensation for counsel appointed to represent indigent defendants. Marla's involvement in, and oversight of, public safety issues in the Commonwealth has enabled her to be on the front lines addressing the many challenges affecting Virginia. This broad experience has given her a unique perspective that will be beneficial in her new role on the Court.

"When we took office in January 2010, I nominated Marla to serve the Commonwealth as Secretary of Public Safety. She has overseen our public safety efforts in the administration, and she has been our key advisor on natural disasters and all criminal justice matters. She spearheaded the successful passage of numerous public safety measures that we proposed for the General Assembly. Because of Marla's work, victims of domestic violence have greater protections and more resources. Gang members face tougher punishment than ever before. And our prisoner re-entry system is one of the best in the nation.

"What's perhaps most remarkable about Marla, however, is the work she has done away from the office. She has previously served in volunteer capacities as President of the Tuckahoe Volunteer Rescue Squad, Vice-President of the Henrico County Association of Volunteer Rescue Squads, and as Commander of the Metro 11 Disaster Response State Task Force. In addition, for many years Marla has spent evenings serving as adjunct faculty at her alma mater, T.C. Williams, teaching appellate advocacy.

"The Virginia Court of Appeals has already begun its fall term. Therefore I believed it was imperative this appointment be made as quickly as possible. We set a time frame of less than one month from Judge Elder's retirement to review candidates for this vacancy and make a selection. Marla Decker will join the Court in November. She will continue her public service to the Commonwealth and our people. It has been an honor to work alongside Marla for the past 8 years. I know she will continue to serve Virginia with honor, character and integrity in this new position."

Article VI, Section 7 of the Constitution of Virginia gives the Governor the authority to fill vacancies to the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, and Circuit Courts "which may exist while the General Assembly is not in session." According to Article VI, Section 7 of the Constitution of Virginia, any individuals appointed to these positions will "serve until thirty days after the commencement of the next session of the General Assembly." Continued service will require election by the General Assembly.

To learn more about Secretary Marla Decker please click HERE.

RELATED: Public safety secretary appointed to Virginia Court of Appeals (AP)