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William J. Martinez

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William J. Martinez
Current Court Information:
United States District Court for the District of Colorado
Title:   Judge
Position:   Seat #7
Appointed by:   Barack Obama
Approval vote:   58-37
Active:   12/21/2010 - Present
Preceded by:   Edward Nottingham
Personal History
Born:   1954
Hometown:   Mexico City, Mexico
Undergraduate:   University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, B.Sc. & B.A., 1977
Law School:   University of Chicago Law, J.D., 1980

William J. "Bill" Martinez is a federal judge on the United States District Court for the District of Colorado. He was nominated to this position by President Obama on February 24, 2010 and was confirmed by the U.S. Senate the following December 21, 2010. He received his commission that same day.[1][2]

Early life and education

Martinez was born in Mexico and immigrated to the United States as a boy. He earned his B.S. degree in Environmental Engineering and his B.A. in Political Science from the University of Illinois. Martinez graduated from the University of Chicago Law School with his Juris Doctor in 1980.[3][1][4]

Professional career

  • 2010-Present: Judge, United States District Court for the District of Colorado
  • 1997-2010: Partner, McNamara, Roseman, Martínez and Kazmierski
  • 1992-1996: Regional Attorney, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (Denver office)
  • 1988-1992: Associate, Pendleton and Sabian (now Pendleton, Freidberg, Wilson & Hennessey)
  • 1980-1987: Attorney, Legal Assistance Foundation in Chicago, Illinois[3][1][4]

Judicial career

District of Colorado

Nomination Tracker
 Candidate:William J. Martinez
 Court:District of Colorado
 Progress:Confirmed 300 days after nomination.
ApprovedANominated:February 24, 2010
ApprovedAABA Rating:Unanimously Qualified
ApprovedAHearing:March 10, 2010
ApprovedAReported:April 15, 2010 
ApprovedAConfirmed:December 21, 2010
 Vote: 58-37

Martinez was nominated for the United States District Court for the District of Colorado by President Obama on February 24, 2010. He was recommended to the President by Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet.[5] Obama called Martinez one "of our nation’s best and brightest".[3] Martinez received a rating of Unanimously Qualified from the American Bar Association.[6]

Martinez had a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 10, 2010. Ranking Republican Jeff Sessions questioned Martinez on his work with the ACLU of Colorado and asked for his stance on capitol punishment. Martinez responded:

that the U.S. Supreme Cout (sic) has ruled that capital punishment doesn’t violate the Eighth Amendment, except in narrow circumstances that have been carved out in recent years. So I think what is material and important is what my view would be as a sitting federal district judge, something that would be quite different from my views as a personal citizen or an advocate or litigant and member of the ACLU.[7][8]
You can find Martinez's Public Questionnaire Available Here and his Questions for the Record available here.

The Committee approved Martinez on April 15, 2010 with a 12-7 vote along party lines, with the Democrats favoring.[9] Martinez's nomination was confirmed by the full U.S. Senate on December 21, 2010.[2] He received his commission on December 21, 2010.[1]

Awards and associations


  • Fellow, College of Labor and Employment Lawyers
  • Bar Fellow, Colorado Bar Foundation
  • Colorado Superior Lawyer in Employment & Labor Law
  • 2008 and 2009: "The Top 50" of Colorado Super Lawyers
  • Best Lawyers in America[4]


  • 2009: Appointed member, Board of Directors of Colorado Legal Services
  • 2009: Appointed member, Judicial Ethics Advisory Board
  • Former Adjunct Professor, University of Denver College of Law
  • Former Vice Chair and Member, Conduct of the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado
  • Former board member and Officer, Faculty of Federal Advocates
  • Former member, Legal Panel of the ACLU of Colorado
  • Former board member, Colorado Hispanic Bar Association[3][4]

Notable cases

Ortega, et al. v City of Denver (2013)

     United States District Court for the District of Colorado (Ortega, Boren, Carillo and Thomas v. City and County of Denver, Officer Ricky Nixon, Officer Kevin Devine, 11-cv-02394)

In February 2013, Judge Martinez ruled on the City of Denver's request for summary judgement in the civil case presented by Ana Alicia Ortega, Kelly Boren, Kristal Carillo and Sharelle C. Thomas. After engaging in an altercation, the plaintiffs brought suit against the city and county, including two officers who were accused of using excessive force. Asserting that no issue of fact exists, the defendants requested summary judgment of the charges. Judge Martinez granted summary judgment of the following allegations: claims for conspiracy, malicious prosecution, destruction and/or hiding of exculpatory evidence, manufacture of inculpatory evidence, First Amendment retaliation and race discrimination.[10] Still pending are charges of failure to train officers on proper use of force, failure to investigate and discipline prior instances of excessive force, tolerance of the Code of Silence, and false arrest/unlawful seizure.[11] Because of the nature of these claims, the plaintiffs are also claiming municipal liability for the charges, meaning that the City and County of Denver may ultimately be held responsible for the actions of its officers.

TABOR challenge (2012)

     United States District Court for the District of Colorado (Kerr v. Hickenlooper, 11-cv-01350)

In July 2012, Judge Martinez released a ruling for a hearing on dismissal of the States of Colorado's TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights). A group of lawmakers are challenging TABOR, which requires statewide voter approval of tax increases that exceed an index created by combining inflation and population increases, claiming that a government's power to tax is granted by the United States Constitution. The government, acting as defendants and represented by Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, put forth that those bringing suit did not have standing and ultimately that this was a political question not to be determined by the courts.[12]

Judge Martinez ruled that the plaintiffs serving in the Colorado General Assembly did have standing to bring the lawsuit. Furthermore, Martinez found that the "claims are not barred by the political question doctrine."[13] There was one bright spot for the defendants, however; Judge Martinez dismissed the claim that TABOR violated the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.[13]

The outcome of this case and the legality of TABOR are still pending, as the challenge goes to trial.[13]

Suspension of Department of Energy uranium mining continued (2011)

     United States District Court for the District of Colorado (Colorado Environmental Coalition v. Office of Legacy Management and US Dept of Energy, 08-cv-06124)

In February 2012, Judge Martinez refused to end the suspension of mining operations as part of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Uranium Lease Management Program. After a lawsuit was filed by the Colorado Environmental Coalition, the DOE asked the court to reconsider the suspension, which created a moratorium on mining leases in the wake of concern over an environmental assessment of the lands. Judge Martinez agreed with the plaintiffs, finding that the poorly conducted assessment violated the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act.[14][15] Though the original injunction disallowed the DOE from engaging in any action on the land, Judge Martinez amended that aspect to allow for the maintenance of land and for a new environmental assessment to be conducted.[16][14]

See also

External links


Federal judicial offices
Preceded by:
Edward Nottingham
District of Colorado
Seat #7
Succeeded by: