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 was elected to four four-year terms in 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015.
Martin has more than 25 years experience as a prosecutor and more than 43 years experience as a trial attorney.
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 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 $10 million that includes about $4.5 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.
Under Martin's leadership, the county’s first Investigating Grand Jury was empanelled in 2001. The Eighth Investigating Grand Jury was empanelled in 2015.
Martin partnered with DeSales University, the Officer David M. Petzold Memorial Foundation and the County of Lehigh to open a 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 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' Mentor Program, which pairs veterans in the community with veterans who are charged with summary offenses, misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies. As of January 2015, there were 27 volunteer mentors who 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 Gang 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 more than $60,000 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 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.
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.