Chris Martin Addresses Opponent's Allegations
Due to my opponent’s recent article in the Van Zandt News alleging that I’m unable to hear criminal cases if elected, I feel it’s my duty to respond so that voters are informed. I don't need a big reveal or lots of smoke and mirrors. I just need to set the record straight with the truth and nothing but the truth.
If I’m elected as the District Judge, there will be certain criminal cases that I will not be able to handle. I will voluntarily recuse myself if I have been an active attorney on a case. In layman’s terms, being an active attorney means that I would have worked on the case, personally prosecuted the case, or have had some type of participation in the case. The law provides that I would only be disqualified as a judge in a case where I served as an active attorney. However, the law does not require a judge to recuse himself on cases where he was the DA but not an active attorney on the case (Rideaux v. State, 498 S.W.3d 634 (Tex. App. 2016)). I haven’t been an active attorney on every felony, misdemeanor, and CPS case that has passed through the Van Zandt DA’s Office. For the past seven years, I’ve conservatively managed the DA’s Office, its resources, and have personally handled my fair share of the caseload, but I have also had help from five assistant DA’s in getting the job done. Unfortunately, there are hundreds if not more than a thousand criminal cases that have come into the DA’s Office that I’ve never seen, read, touched, or even discussed.
In an effort to garner support, Judge McDonald wants to lead voters to believe that a DA becoming a judge is an unworkable rarity. The fact of the matter is that DAs in Texas become Judges all the time. Our neighbors in Tyler (Judge Jack Skeen) and Athens (Judge Scott McKee) can testify to this fact. If elected, I would be the third DA in Van Zandt County to become District Judge in the past 40 years. Richard Davis served as VZDA from 1977-1981, then served as the District Judge from 1981-1988, followed by Tommy Wallace’s service as VZDA from 1981-1988, and then serving as the District Judge from 1988-2002. These men successfully served as DA and then District Judge at a time when the County Court at Law didn’t even exist. They didn’t cost the taxpayers “hundreds of thousands of dollars” either.
If elected to the District Judge post, you can rest assured that I’ll be addressing a heavy docket of family cases, civil cases, CPS cases, and hundreds of criminal cases where I have not been an active attorney and where no conflict exists, on day one. As I have stated several times before, I will not take on any case that I have personally handled as a prosecutor. If or when a conflict arises, my first plan of attack is to seek the assistance of the Van Zandt County Court at Law Judge to handle the case at no cost. The County Court at Law was created in 2009 to aid the District Court in handling the burgeoning caseload. If the District Court and County Court at Law work together, there will be absolutely no cost in the assignment of cases between the two courts. In fact, Mr. Joshua Wintters, one of the two Republican candidates in the race for the County Court at Law bench, has already pledged his commitment and cooperation in resolving any conflicts that may arise if we are both elected as judges resulting in zero cost to the taxpayers.
In the event a conflict arises and a visiting judge is needed, visiting judges assigned to the District Court are paid by the State of Texas, not Van Zandt County. McDonald claims a court reporter will have to be assigned along with the visiting judge, pushing the daily cost to $1,000.00. The District Court already has a full time court reporter. Therefore, there would be no additional expense for a court reporter. McDonald’s math is a little fuzzy. So let's check his work. If a visiting District Judge has to be assigned, the cost of a visiting judge’s salary for Van Zandt County is $0, plus an already salaried District Court Reporter is $0, then the additional cost to Van Zandt County is $0. This issue only apples if a conflict arises and the County Court of Law cannot handle the case.
As you can plainly see, my election will not cost you “hundreds of thousands” of dollars. Claims like these are unsupportable, incorrectly state the law, and appear to be a blatant attempt to deceive the voters once again by blurring the numbers and the facts. I’m so confident in my position, that I’ve staked my reputation and standing in the community on it.
Should you have any questions or concerns, you are welcomed to contact me for further discussion.
Sent from my iPhone