By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Judge Matthew Martin served as an Associate Judge in the Cherokee Tribal Court for close to 11 years. Starting in April 2002, he presided over thousands of cases. He officially retired from the court and was honored at a reception on Monday, Feb. 11.
“Nobody here owes me a debt of gratitude, I owe you a debt of gratitude because I am a better person today than I was on April 11, 2002,” Martin told the group at Monday’s event. “That’s because of my association with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the lawyers and the professionals that serve this Tribe.”
He went on to say, “One-hundred and ninety-seven (197) years ago, the Cherokee people invented the tribal court. The Supreme Court of North Carolina is only four years older than the first tribal court in this country. One hundred years from now, this court will still be in existence, and our grandchildren will look back on what we have done, and I hope that they will be very pleased and very proud in what we have created.”
Martin earned a bachelor’s degree in History from the University of North Carolina in 1982. Three years later, he graduated from the University of North Carolina School of Law. He entered the North Carolina State Bar in 1986, and in 2009, he earned a master of judicial studies degree from the University of Nevada-Reno.
Martin became Board Certified by the North Carolina State Bar as a specialist in Federal and State Criminal Law and Appellate Practice in 1995. In addition to the state bar, he is a member of the American Bar Association, the Federal Bar Association, and he served as chair (2009-10) of the National Conference of Specialized Court Judges.
Martin currently serves as an adjunct professor of Law at the University of North Carolina School of Law and the Elon University School of Law. He is also a faculty member at The National Judicial College.
“Matthew Martin is the best trial judge the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has ever had and probably ever will have,” said Judge Steven Philo, trial judge with the Cherokee Tribal Court. “I have appeared before many judges. I tried to do the best I could do as a trial judge. But, I have never seen a man nor a woman on the bench who applied the law, cared about the Tribe, cared about the defendants, cared about the juveniles, cared about the parties that got a balance that he was able to achieve. Never before, in my career, have I seen anyone that could do that except for Matthew.”
Cherokee Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Boyum commented, “He will definitely be missed. He and his father were instrumental in setting up this court and expanding the jurisdiction, maintaining independence from the Tribal Council and the Executive Committee. He exemplifies what a good judge is. He is patient. He is very intelligent. He is a student of the law.”
Chief Justice Boyum concluded, “The Cherokee Courts will miss him greatly.”