— The WD recently sent questionnaires to the candidates in contested county races in the March 4 primary elections. The candidates were asked to provide background information and answers, in 300 words or less, to questions posed to them. Early voting begins Feb. 18. Today we look at the four Republican primary candidates for Justice of the Peace, Pct. 3. There is no Democratic opponent.
Name: Gregory Martin
Family: Married with six children; nine grandchildren.
Educational background: Bachelor of Arts in Marketing; MBA in Executive Management; film/cinema director and line producer; and Juris Doctor. Various awards and continuing education certifications earned.
Professional affiliations or memberships: North Texas Crime Commission, InfraGuard, Homeland Security, Film and TV Professionals, CEO and professional golfer.
Community involvement: confidant/chaplain to law enforcement, military actors and professional athletes. Formerly a professional golfer and evangelist to professional golfers on the PGA and Buy.com Tours 1993-2003
What will be your top three priorities if elected justice of the peace and what steps will you take to achieve those goals?
I will utilize the federal court model of mediation and arbitration to settle court cases. The federal courts settle 95 percent of the cases presented, according to Federal Magistrate Jeffery Cureton, in Fort Worth. Using this model of case settlement will allow me and my staff the ability to clear up cases sooner, creating a better end result for both plaintiff and defendant. It will also save a great deal of money and time for all involved, including Parker County.
I will create a means for plaintiffs and defendants to better comprehend the legal system by developing a concise road map to understanding the JP court, whether represented by legal counsel or pro se. Legal education is not legal advice. No court provides legal advice; however, judges generally provide explanations on how and why they are ruling a particular way, by citing case law. I believe that by making legal education accessible for all – the courts and people of Parker County will greatly benefit.
I will be tough on drug and alcohol offenders. Teen Challenge, founded by the late David Wilkerson, author of “The Cross and the Switchblade,” assists people with addictions. Ages 18 to 65 are served in these facilities. Offenders can expect to be handed down proper sentencing under the law, and repeat offenders with life- altering substance and alcohol addictions can anticipate being assigned to a treatment facility. No federal, state, city, or county funding is used for Teen Challenge. All units are funded privately and they are non-profit, 501c3 organizations. A study revealed in 2001 that the success rate of Teen Challenge was approximately 81 percent for those who entered the program and more importantly, they remained out of the court system.
How can court efficiency or other areas of court operations be improved and what are your plans to do so if elected?
Judge Merkley runs one of the best JP courts in Texas and will be missed after 24 years of service. If elected, I intend to spend time with Judge Merkley consulting her for advice and wisdom and to continue her highly-efficient methods, while identifying areas she believes would further facilitate improvements to the court. I will also implement additional efficiencies by consulting with other Texas Judges and continue to add to my knowledge by pursuing additional continuing education. I believe computer automation will also play a great role in creating better court efficiency.
I will add legal education to the Justice of the Peace Precinct 3 website, which will assist plaintiffs and defendants in understanding what they can expect when coming to court. I encourage everyone to utilize an attorney and/or legal professional. In the event legal counsel cannot be afforded, everyone should have fair access and be confident bringing their pro se case to Parker County Precinct 3, without reservation. I will also see that information sheets and instructions assisting plaintiffs and defendants are provided, to aid in them prosecuting or defending their cases. This information will assist those coming to court and help facilitate the process; it will not provide legal counsel or replace the advice of an attorney but will help a pro se litigant.
Those who proceed pro se in justice of the peace court have found it very difficult at times to adjust to standards and protocols of the court. The state improved that, through utilizing the model adapted previously in federal court. My intention is to simplify and keep the court docket as clear as possible, while attempting to meet or exceed the standard of federal court where 95 percent of cases are settled and do not go to trial.
Why are you the best candidate for the position?
I am the only candidate of the four possessing 35 years of hands-on business experience. In 1979, at age 18, I formed my first company. My attorney, Don Leonard, later became a judge in Texas. My mom was his legal secretary in the 1980s.
Currently, I oversee two companies and face challenges in various business situations requiring me to represent myself or my companies in court and/or mediation. Being the son of an Army Green Beret, I understand hard work. My first job was at a golf course. I was also a radio air personality, simultaneously. I’m no stranger to long hours and hard work.
If elected, everyone coming into the court will be treated fairly. I believe I am the best candidate because of my broad experiences. Notwithstanding, I will be tough on crime. Having worked in conjunction with law enforcement since 1984, not as a paid police officer, sheriff’s deputy or prosecutor, but as a consultant assisting law enforcement and three-letter agencies, I understand the criminal and civil side of law. My business partner was with the Department of Justice and his job was to chase narcotics dealers around the world and bring them to justice, along with their assets. He also worked for U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. My career assessment 10 years ago indicated that judge was my number one career aptitude.
With a wide range of experiences in business, and law, and possessing the knowledge critical to being a successful justice of the peace, I believe that my ability to adapt during my years of business which includes movies, radio, and golf manufacturing, will be a great asset. As a former residential/commercial real estate investor, I understand legal matters pertaining to business and personal disputes.