Superior Court Judge (No. 10) candidate Brandon Martin

Kern County Voter’s Guide

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Superior Court Judge (No. 10) candidate Brandon Martin“I grew up in Bakersfield, and enjoyed discovering the valley with the children of oilmen and farmers,” said Brandon Martin, candidate in the race for Kern County Superior Court Judge.

The son of a prominent Bakersfield attorney, Martin said that he “gave into my genetic predisposition for the practice of law” after graduating summa cum laude from the University of California, Los Angeles.

“By the end of my time there, I was doing a lot of research into juries and instructions, and I even had a talk radio show called Law Talk on American General Media,” he said.

“So I had this interest in law even before I could make money doing it. I think this is important because it illustrates my passion for law.”

At Berkeley School of Law, he recalled being “the only student to wear cowboy boots to class.” He was also one of only 10 members of the school’s Federalist Society, a conservative group located on the liberal-leaning campus.

“I guess I just characterize that experience as ‘whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ If you want to solidify the strength of your beliefs, be a conservative at Berkeley in a criminal procedures class taught by one of the greatest legal minds in America,” said Martin.

“You got to, through the Socratic method, stand up and have your beliefs tested. It made me stronger, in terms of my core beliefs.”

Martin said that after graduation, he became a civil practitioner. “In civil litigation you get experience on ‘both sides of the aisle,’ which is important for objectivity. As an attorney, I wanted fairness and respect for my client.”

As a judge, he said, his campaign promise comes down to just that — fairness to all.

“I will take the evidence brought before me, and I will apply the appropriate law in a fair and impartial manner, 100 percent of the time. And I will recognize the dignity of the people who come into my courtroom. That will be a big leap forward.”

Martin currently teaches one night a week at a law school and also serves as the chief of staff for Kern County 4th District Supervisor David Couch. “I’m also practicing with my father a little bit.”

As a chief of staff, he said, he is constantly interacting with people. “I’ve gotten a lot better at listening than I was as a full time white-shoe lawyer in Los Angeles. The skill set I have is not necessarily traditional for a judge in Kern County, but it will be useful.”

He said that he is running for the seat of retiring Superior Court Judge Sidney Chapin.

“He was an excellent judge. Not the easiest to appear in front of if you were not prepared, but that’s one of the reasons he was a great judge,” said Martin.

“They say that Sid is the hardest-working judge on the bench. I would like people to say the same thing of me.”

Martin said that he has appeared before judges who have not read the attorneys’ briefings, a practice he called unacceptable.

“I want attorneys to know that I will maintain fairness and distance from the bar, and that victims’ rights are something that is deeply personal for me.”

Martin said that his aunt was murdered, which has impressed upon him the importance of hearing from victims and their families.

“The more I can integrate victims into the process so that their voices can be heard, the more I will feel successful.”

Martin said he sees an imbalance in the way courts are being handled countywide.

“We can’t decide where we will be and what we will be doing. Voters decide if [a candidate in a judge’s race] have a seat, but the presiding judge in the county decides where we go and what we will be doing.”

He said that he would like to be a traveling judge in East Kern. “For example, the Isabella court is open for one day a week and only in the morning. That is not sufficient for those residents.

“It is important to have the public’s confidence. We need to have faith in the system, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.”

Martin has been endorsed by numerous high-profile elected and community leaders in Bakersfield, as well as by former Kern County 1st District Supervisor Jon McQuiston and Indian Wells Valley residents Stu Witt, Scott O’Neil and Chip Holloway.

Story First Published: 2018-05-18