James B. "Jim" Martin is the longest serving district attorney in the history of Lehigh County. He has been district attorney since January 1998 when he was appointed by the County commissioners. He has been elected to five four-year terms in 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015.
Martin has more than 27 years’ experience as a prosecutor and more than 45 years’ experience as a trial attorney. He is past president (2006) of the Bar Association of Lehigh County.
From 2000-2012, he was a member of the Executive Committee of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association and was president of the Association from 2006-2007. He is a past president of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Institute, the educational and training arm of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association.
Martin is a past member (eight years) of the Governor’s Victims Services Advisory Committee of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency and also had served on the Commission for Justice Initiatives, which was a Pennsylvania Bar Association and Pennsylvania Supreme Court joint commission.
Martin manages a budget of over $10 million that includes about $5 million in grant money and/or revenue. He supervises more than 80 people – attorneys, administrative staff, a victim/witness unit, county detectives, and homicide, drug and auto theft/insurance fraud task forces, the Regional Intelligence and Investigation Center (RIIC), and the Officer David M. Petzold Digital Forensics Laboratory of Lehigh County located on the campus of DeSales University.
Under Martin's leadership, the county’s first Investigating Grand Jury was empanelled in 2001. The Ninth Investigating Grand Jury was empaneled in 2017.
Martin partnered with DeSales University, the Officer David M. Petzold Memorial Foundation and the County of Lehigh to open the Digital Forensics Laboratory on the campus of DeSales University in March 2011. At the laboratory, which is the first of its kind in Pennsylvania, specially trained detectives analyze computers, cell phones and audio-visual equipment to obtain evidence during investigations into a wide variety of crimes.
Martin spearheaded the development of the Lehigh County Regional Intelligence and Investigation Center in Allentown, which integrates records of police departments in the county and dozens of local, state and federal databases in one electronic crime-fighting resource. The Center has assisted in the investigation of numerous crimes and enhances criminal investigators' ability to solve crimes. In January 2011, he started the Lehigh County District Attorney's Veterans' Mentoring Program, which pairs veterans in the community with veterans who are charged with summary offenses, misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies. Volunteer mentors help veterans who are defendants to access Veterans Administration benefits, find and apply for jobs, obtain housing, stay drug and alcohol free, reunite with families, and become productive members of society.
Martin has partnered with the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in the Community Gun Violence Prosecution Program, Project Safe Neighborhoods, Weed & Seed, Route 222 Corridor Initiative, and the Anti-Terrorism Task Force.
In 2007, Martin created the Elder Abuse Task Force to increase public awareness of elder abuse and neglect. The Task Force is made up of protective services personnel of the Lehigh County Office of Aging and Adult Services, members of the District Attorney’s Office and the Temple University Institute on Protective Services, police, citizens and doctors.
Martin led the county’s municipalities in forming the Municipal Emergency Response Team, whose law enforcement members have responded to high-risk situations since 2001.
In 2005, he started a bad check restitution program that has recovered more than $500,000 for victims of bad check offenses and has generated thousands of dollars in revenue for the county.
Also in 2005, Martin formed the Homicide Task Force, whose detectives have investigated numerous cases and have made arrests in recent and previously unsolved homicides.
Martin worked with police chiefs, magisterial district judges and the court in 2007 to establish the Lehigh County Central Booking Center, which is located in the county jail. The Center facilitates processing of suspects and videoconferencing of preliminary arraignments by magisterial district judges and continues to save police departments thousands of hours in police officers' time. The operating expenses are covered by charges assessed against convicted defendants who are processed through the Center, which uses no tax dollars.