Denver Bar Association
December 2002
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Judge is the Master of ‘Reasonable Shoes’

by Dennis Walker

A quick glimpse at the life of Denver District Court Judge Michael Martinez

Michael Martinez does what he likes best—trial work. He has always enjoyed work in the courtroom. During his two years in the Denver District Court he has immersed himself in the opportunity of his ambition.

Prior to joining the Denver Bench, Judge Martinez was a Magistrate in Adams County where he handled domestic, juvenile and criminal matters. He quickly became known for his willingness to mentor the young lawyers that typically appeared in his Court. Early in his career, Judge Martinez realized how important it was to consider the impact of the law on people’s lives. Prosecutors and defense attorneys were equally subjected to his consistent encouragement to take a reasonable, practical approach to the practice of law and their dealings with each other.

During the hearing of a juvenile matter in Adams County, deputy district attorney Andrew Lower, who had been appearing regularly before Judge Martinez, made a recommendation that prompted the court to remark, "it looks like Mr. Lower has his reasonable shoes on today." The metaphor must have come up often. When Judge Martinez was appointed to the Denver District Court, Andrew Lower dubbed Martinez as the sensei (or master) of "reasonable shoes." Today, mounted on the east wall of his chambers in Courtroom 4 are a bronzed pair of Andrew Lower's dress-for–court, cap-toed "reasonable" shoes.

Michael is the 11th of 12 children. He grew up in Colorado Springs where his mother labored for years in the service industry and his father was a decorated disabled veteran. Before law school, Judge Martinez worked a wide variety of professions, and the experience he gained as a gravedigger, fast-food worker and sewer-line repair man has helped him remain on steady ground while sitting on the bench. He earned his bachelor’s degree at CU and then graduated from the University of Denver College of Law.

Judge Martinez’ legal career has been equally varied. He worked in the public and private sector as an assistant city attorney, spending tours dealing with criminal, family and juvenile matters, as well as defending civil liability and employment claims. He also dug into work as a county court magistrate, a contract attorney for the RTD and then as a district court magistrate. His depth and variety of experience prepared him for the district court. For more than 10 years he has worked on the faculty of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA).

Currently at the helm in Courtroom 4, a family court, he has seen the need for quality and balance, maturity and objectivity. In January, he will go back to civil.

Michael is married to Meghan W. Martinez, a senior associate with Brownstein, Hyatt & Farber, who focuses on employment law and commercial litigation. Their three children are Gabriella, 10, Matthew, 5, and Olivia, 5 months.

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