Chris Martin's Priorities for 54B District Court

Justice & Opportunity

As 54B District Court Judge, I will continue the important work of the 54B Drug Treatment Court and Veterans' Court.

I will create opportunities in our community by expanding access to treatment court programs in East Lansing and throughout Ingham County.

In recent years, treatment courts have innovated the justice system by encouraging treatment over incarceration and a problem-solving approach between mental health professionals, service providers, and the justice system. 54B District Court has successful Drug Court programs and Veterans' treatment court programs that have been recognized statewide for their exceptional work. These programs prioritize treatment and allow individuals to keep low-level offenses off their record.

My experience has taught me that in many cases justice is a collaborative problem-solving process that requires creating new opportunities alongside accountability. This is especially true with cases involving young people, minor criminal offenses, and the civil disputes commonly before the District Court. Courts can create opportunities by helping parties secure resources or treatment for underlying mental health issues, substance use disorders, or financial troubles connected to their legal problems—often through treatment court programs. As an attorney, I have been a member of several treatment court teams in Ingham County, including sobriety courts and mental health courts. My efforts have expanded access to treatment courts, grown innovative rehabilitation and mental health programs, and promoted deferred dispositions and other alternatives to traditional prosecution and the cycle of incarceration for lower-level offenses. In fact, the judges who began the treatment court programs at 54B District Court have all endorsed me in this election.

As 54B District Court Judge, I will create opportunities in our community by expanding access to treatment court programs and making more services available to the people who will benefit from a collaborative, problem-solving approach.

Transparency

I believe improved data transparency by courts will benefit our community by allowing us to identify access issues for marginalized community members, address any disparities in case dispositions, and set actionable priorities for a more just future.

With a few exceptions, cases pending before the District Court are public records and many court proceedings are livestreamed for public access. While this creates an important level of transparency, it often lacks context. That is why I support improving our Court's internal and public data systems to be certain that our Court can spot potential racial, gender, and geographic disparities, ensure equal treatment, and promote transparency. Since 2019, I have participated in a study to identify potential disparities in arrests, charging decisions, and incarceration periods as part of a partnership between a national non-profit organization and the Ingham County Prosecutor's office. Our office has used data from that study to improve our office policies, modernize our internal case management systems, and make meaningful information accessible and publicly available. I believe deliberate self-study and improved data transparency by courts will benefit our community by allowing us to identify access issues for marginalized community members, address any disparities in case dispositions, and set actionable priorities for a more just future.

Expanded Access

As 54B District Court Judge, I will remove barriers to participation for our neighbors, encourage engagement, and provide new Court-related services to the East Lansing community.

Courts have always relied on the expertise of attorneys and judges, but I believe we also have an obligation to make our courtrooms and court programming more welcoming and accessible for everyone else who counts on our courts. As a former teacher, I support periodic educational programming to help citizens navigate systems and common issues before the Court. I believe the Court should regularly convene expungement clinics with volunteers and legal experts to help community members clean up their records at low cost or no cost. I am experienced with the use of technology in courtrooms, and I support conducting many court hearings via videoconference to save time and legal costs for parties who prefer to appear remotely. As 54B District Court Judge, I will work to remove barriers to participation for our neighbors, encourage engagement, and provide positive services to the East Lansing community.