Attorneys challenge ethics in Martin campaign


News Review Staff Writer

Prominent Kern County attorneys have called into question the ethics of Brandon Martin, who is currently running for one of two open seats on the June Primary ballot for Kern County Superior Court Judge.

Kern County Prosecutor’s Association President Michael Caves published a piece last week, which has since been circulating through the media, calling Martin “morally bankrupt” for misleading the voters.

Martin has been challenged throughout the campaign for his lack of courtroom experience — he has handled very few cases, none of which have gone to trial.

But Caves also points out that for years Martin’s primary occupation has been as a field representative for a county official. However, on the ballot, Martin lists his occupations as attorney, law professor and judge pro tem.

“If someone asked you about your occupation, would you claim to be a movie critic based on having watched a single movie in your life? Or how about claiming your occupation as ‘chef’ after cooking a single meal?” wrote Caves.

“Most of us realize that it would be dishonest to claim that something is your occupation after having done it for free, as a volunteer, on a temporary basis, for less than an hour and a half.”

The last comment refers to Martin’s claim to be a judge pro tem.

“Now, the canons of judicial ethics, which apply to all judicial candidates, and every California case that has dealt with this issue, clearly indicate that a pro tem cannot claim or reference ‘judge pro tem’ as an occupation. And that’s true even for judge pro tems who have actual experience, even pro tems who have been doing it for 30 years.”

Teresa Goldner, former Kern County counsel and an associate at the same school of law where Martin teaches one evening a week, also questioned Martin’s actions.

“You are not supposed to do that. That is against the rules of judicial ethics. It is misleading, it’s inappropriate and, in my opinion, it’s unethical.”

Caves further pressed the point of Martin’s lack of courtroom experience.

“As a candidate with absolutely no jury trial experience whatsoever, Brandon has one advantage in his campaign to be a trial court judge — he can say whatever voters want to hear,” he wrote.

“And since he has no experience, we don’t immediately know he is lying about what he would do if he ever stepped into a courtroom.

“I am thankful for one thing. I appreciate the fact that Brandon has unwittingly revealed his true character.”

(See the letter Caves submitted to the News Review:

Although Martin has defended his actions with other media outlets, he has not responded to the News Review’s request for comment.

Story First Published: 2018-05-25