James B. Martin

James B. “Jim” Martin

 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 28 years’ experience as a prosecutor and more than 46 years’ experience as a trial attorney.  He is past president (1986) 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 which established templates for “Problem Solving” courts, including “Drug Courts.”

     Martin manages a budget of over $12 million that includes about $3.9 million in grant money, forfeitures reimbursement and generated revenue. He supervises more than 125 people – attorneys; administrative staff; a victim/witness unit; county detectives; homicide, drug and auto theft/insurance fraud task forces; the Regional Intelligence and Investigation Center (RIIC); the Officer David M. Petzold Digital Forensics Laboratory of Lehigh County located on the campus of DeSales University; and the Central Booking Unit. 

            Martin has spearheaded numerous innovations since becoming District Attorney:

 

  • The first Investigating Grand Jury in Lehigh County’s history was empaneled by Martin in 2001.  Currently, the tenth Investigating Grand Jury is hearing cases.  A petition was recently filed with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to permit the Investigating Grand Jury to also act as an Indicting Grand Jury, and that has been granted.

 

  • The Child Advocacy Center (CAC) of Lehigh County was established in 2001, as a co-located facility bringing law enforcement, Office of Children and Youth caseworkers, and health care professionals together in one place to provide victims of child abuse and sexual assault caring and professional services.

 

  • The Municipal Emergency Response Team (MERT) was formed by Martin in cooperation with Lehigh County Chiefs of Police in 2001, and it continues to respond to high-risk situations arising in the county and, thereby, enhances public safety.

 

  • The Bad Check Restitution Program, implemented by Martin in 2005, has recovered more than $700,000 for victims of bad check offenses and generated over $75,000 in revenue.

 

  • The Lehigh County Homicide Task Force, formed by Martin in summer 2005, has assisted area police departments, particularly Allentown Police Department, in solving 130 criminal homicides to date, resulting in the arrest of 141 dangerous individuals.

 

  • The Officer David M. Petzold Digital Forensics Laboratory of Lehigh County was initiated in partnership with the Officer David M. Petzold Memorial Foundation, DeSales University, and the District Attorney to provide state-of-the-art digital forensic analyses.  The Petzold Foundation to date has contributed $170,000 to Lehigh County for the use of the District Attorney in equipping and running this laboratory, and it represents a one-of-a-kind county laboratory in the Commonwealth aiding local law enforcement, including neighboring Northampton County.  The lab has been instrumental in assisting in investigations of numerous serious crimes, including homicides and child pornography.

 

  • In January 2011 Martin established the District Attorney’s Veterans’ Mentoring Program, which pairs veterans in the community with veterans who are charged with non-violent crimes.  There are currently 25 veterans who have volunteered to be mentors in this program, and they help veterans who are defendants to access VA benefits, find and apply for jobs, obtain housing, stay drug and alcohol free, and once again become productive members of society. 

 

  • The Elder Abuse Task Force, formed by Martin in 2007, continues to increase public awareness of elder abuse and neglect and assists in performing investigations of crimes against the elderly.

 

  • The Lehigh County Central Booking Center, established by Martin in 2007, continues to save police departments throughout the county thousands of officer’s hours in the processing of individuals arrested for crimes within the county.  This center’s operating expenses are completely covered by charges assessed against convicted defendants processed through the center.  The center has consistently shown a “profit” of revenue over expenses from its inception and utilizes no tax dollars.

 

  • In 2012/2013 Martin established the Lehigh County Firearm and Tool Mark Laboratory to provide Lehigh County law enforcement agencies with expert ballistics examinations on an accelerated basis.  This modern lab is centrally located within the Cetronia Ambulance Corps/Lehigh County Building in South Whitehall Township.

 

  • Martin leads the development of the Lehigh County Regional Intelligence and Investigation Center (RIIC), which began operations in 2013.  This center integrates data from all police departments in the county and recently included data from Northampton County departments.  It also includes dozens of local, state and federal databases in one electronic crime-fighting resource, which has assisted in the investigation of numerous crimes and has dramatically enhanced the ability of criminal investigators to solve crimes.  Martin was successful in obtaining a $150,000 matching grant from the Harry C. Trexler Trust and several grants totaling $500,000 from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) to enlarge the data sources integrated into the system and to enhance the gang intelligence database for use by local law enforcement.  Currently the RIIC is partnering with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Washington, D.C., which is using its Gang Intelligence System as a “pilot” for tracking transnational gangs.  This has resulted in the recent award of a $1.1 million grant to the RIIC.

 

  • Martin and the RIIC are partnering with area healthcare providers, Lehigh Valley Health Network and St. Luke’s University Health Network, to analyze mental health related data from a law enforcement and healthcare perspective.  Both sectors are often dealing with the same population.  Once an individual is arrested and in the system, it is more costly and difficult to treat that person.  By partnering with healthcare in a collaborative effort, steps can be taken toward a proactive approach to work toward getting such individuals the mental health treatment that they need. 

 

  • Martin also obtained a grant to assist in the placement of medication collection boxes at 12 police departments throughout the county and at Lehigh Valley Hospital sites at Cedar Crest in Salisbury Township, 17th and Chew Streets in Allentown, and the Muhlenberg Campus in Bethlehem.  These collection boxes are available to the public for discarding and collecting unused prescription and over-the-counter medications, thereby reducing the potential for abuse of narcotics.  In addition, Martin’s office has assisted in the coordination of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) National Take Back Days for the collection of unused medications.  To date these programs have resulted in the collection and proper disposal of more than 20 tons of unwanted and potentially dangerous and abused prescription medications.

 

  • In 2014, Martin revamped the Domestic Violence Unit of the District Attorney’s Office and, with the assistance of the Court of Common Pleas, established a Domestic Violence Court through which all domestic violence cases are now prosecuted.  In concert with Martin’s initiative, the Lehigh County Adult Probation Office has initiated a Batterers Intervention Education Program for defendants convicted of domestic violence.  This results in these defendants being more closely supervised and treated for anger management issues.

 

  • Martin has played a leading role in the establishment of “Team MISA” which deals with defendants who have mental health and/or substance abuse problems.  Team MISA is comprised of the various stakeholders in Lehigh County and in the justice system.  It is chaired by the First Assistant District Attorney. 

 

  • Martin led the distribution of Narcan/naloxone, the drug which reverses an opioid overdose, to all Lehigh County Police Departments in 2014.  In 2018, Martin helped to establish the Blue Guardian Program, together with Lehigh County Drug and Alcohol and the Regional Intelligence and Investigation Center.  Blue Guardian is a program whereby people who have been revived through the use of naloxone receive a visit at their home within 72 hours by a police officer and a Certified Recovery Specialist (CRS).  The objectives of Blue Guardian are to help people into treatment and to increase awareness of resources available to combat addiction.  During the first year of the program, 34 people chose to go into treatment as a result of Blue Guardian.

 

  • Martin established the Safe Schools Task Force, which brings law enforcement and school administrators together two times a year for the purpose of discussing security issues and other mutual concerns in the schools of Lehigh County.

 

  • Martin, with the assistance of Victim/Witness Coordinator Kimberly Silvestri, brought a courthouse companion dog, Ramona, a Black Lab, to assist with victims of crime-particularly the very young and old.

 

  • Martin with the RIIIC has very recently embarked on a project, the objective of which will be to attack human trafficking in the county.  Martin has assembled a team comprised of representatives from the RIIC; the District Attorney’s Office; Lehigh University’s Computer Science & Engineering Department; AEquitas, a prosecutor’s resource; the Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation at Villanova Law and members of the community.  The objective of this program, which has caught the attention of the United Nations, will be to provide victims treatment and to arrest and prosecute traffickers and the consumers of sex for money.

 

            Martin graduated from Allentown Central Catholic High School and received a Bachelor’s Degree from Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland.  He received his law degree from the Temple University School of Law.  He resides with his wife Patricia in Center Valley.