To the Editor: Martin is ‘morally bankrupt’

Brandon Martin’s candidacy is an insult to the Kern County Superior Court.

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? 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. But, most people aren’t Brandon Martin.

Brandon, whose only fulltime job over the past four years has been as a field representative for a member of the board of supervisors, lists his occupation as a “judge pro tem” in the voter guide. The deadline for Brandon to file his statement and his occupation was March 9, 2018. Perhaps not surprisingly, that was the first day he ever served as a pro tem. Guess how long he served as a volunteer pro tem when he started claiming that was his occupation? Exactly one hour and 18 minutes.

Now, the canons of judicial ethics (which apply to 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. Brandon does something for less time than it takes to watch a movie and then claims that is his occupation? Although to be fair, that is probably consistent with how much legal experience he has had over the past four years, as well as teaching experience, since he has had only one fulltime occupation over the past four years, and that occupation is not listed on the ballot, nor does he identify “field representative” as his occupation in his ballot statement. After hearing Brandon lie and mislead voters in commercials, and in person during candidate forums, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by anything he says.

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, and since he has no experience, we don’t immediately know he is lying about what he would do if he ever actually stepped into a courtroom. Of course, when he gets a little experience, even as little as one hour and 18 minutes of experience, we get a really clear understanding of his judicial philosophy.

You see, even though Brandon only had one hour and 18 minutes as a pro tem when he designated that as his occupation, he revealed a little about his true position on plea bargaining. Brandon did some polling a while back and figured out that judges who are pro law enforcement and against plea bargaining seem to poll well. Brandon has never tried or handled a single criminal case, and his opponent has been a full-time prosecutor for well over a decade. Brandon isn’t qualified when it comes to courtroom experience or protecting victims, so Brandon did the next best thing; He claims that he is against plea bargaining. So how did that claim pan out during his one hour and 18 minutes as a pro tem? Brandon pled out or dismissed outright every single case that he handled, aside from a handful of cases that got continued. Each of these cases had a statement from a law enforcement officer, swearing under oath that this person violated the law, and despite that, brandon pled or dismissed every case.

Oh, and then there’s Brandon’s comparison of himself to U.S. Supreme Court Justices. See, Brandon is running to be a trial court judge, and he realizes, as most people do, that a lack of jury trial experience is a bad thing if you are running to be a trial court judge. Brandon’s sidestep on this issue is actually pretty creative. Well, as long as no one in the audience has taken a basic civics class or a course in American Government. Brandon tells the voters that you don’t need trial court experience to be a trial court judge, since some U.S. Supreme Court justices might not have trial court experience. So what’s the problem with that? The problem is that the last time (and the only time) the U.S. Supreme Court has heard a jury trial was in 1794! The last time a Kern County Superior Court judge heard a jury trial was about one second ago. Kern County Superior Court judges are trial court judges.

Saying you don’t need jury trial experience to be a trial court judge because some Supreme Court Justices don’t have jury trial experience is like saying you don’t need experience driving a big rig before being hired as a long-haul truck driver, since most NASCAR drivers don’ t have big rig experience. It’s an invalid comparison, and Brandon knows it. But that’s what you do when you are unqualified. You lie, and you try to mislead the voters.

I am thankful for one thing. I appreciate the fact that Brandon has unwittingly revealed his true character. You see, like most attorneys in town, I didn’t even know Brandon was an attorney until he became a candidate.

We had interacted on various things over the years, mostly related to event planning and the kind of stuff you would expect the average staffer for a member of the board to be involved in. I had the general impression that he was a nice guy, I met his daughter and his girlfriend on various occasions, and he seemed nice enough. So when he said he was running for judge, I thought the only problem with him being a candidate for trial court judge was a complete and utter lack of qualifications. Through his campaign, Brandon has revealed that his biggest failing—and the reason why he can never sit as a trial court judge—is the fact that he is willing to intentionally lie to get elected. I appreciate knowing his true character. We’ll see if it has any impact on the election.

Michael A. Caves

Story First Published: 2018-05-25