Willard "Bud" Martin was sworn in as a judge on his 35th birthday and for the past 35 years he has been an advocate for youths involved in the legal system.
After 35 years, this community advocate has retired from the bench with plans to take his work to the State House.
"I was sworn in on my birthday in 1972," Martin said. "I was 35."
Martin is now 70 and is required by the state to retire from the bench. He will continue his law practice at Martin, Lord & Osman in Laconia as well as continuing with other projects, including a potential run for state senate.
A native of Boston, Martin moved to Laconia in 1941 after his father took a job as a personnel manager for Scott and Williams through his grandfather’s business connections with the company. He lived in Laconia for many years before moving to Gilford and settling in Sandwich, where he lives today.
Martin has worked at his current law practice for 47 years, starting as a clerk.
For the past 35 years he has been a judge for the Laconia District Court and the Ossipee Family Division.
In the 35 years Martin has served as a judge, the most significant development he has seen is the change in how juveniles are managed in the justice system. Martin said the system now favors diversionary and restorative justice "as opposed to adversarial, prosecutorial."
"It really needs to be community-centered legislation (to) move the system from an adversarial, confrontational aspect of finding a kid to be delinquent," he said, "not to judge. That gets in the way of what you really need to do and get the support."
The changes in the juvenile justice system include youths signing a contract of restoration which includes requirements for community services to restore to the community what was taken away when the youths got into trouble. Child and family services also become involved if the youth offender is a victim of abuse or neglect.
Martin said the development of Court Appointed Special Advocates has also helped give a "concept of permanency."
"Every child who was found to be neglected or abused would be guaranteed a permanent plan within 12 months: (either) reintegration with the family or adoption," he said.
The state taking full responsibility for juvenile diversionary and restorative justice has also been a triumph, as the state used to share responsibility with the county. There is also a substance abuse oversight group [in] Belknap and Carroll Counties.
Martin is also a judicial fellow with Reclaiming Futures, an initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that helps juveniles who are involved with the justice system and have substance abuse issues. The program emphasizes the importance of substance abuse treatment and has set up fellowships of justice officials, such as probation officers, judges, community project directors and others.
Judges from 10 different states gathered in Meredith in October for a two-day curriculum co-organized by Martin for the best ways to treat and manage juvenile offenders with substance abuse issues. He recently took part in a meeting in Chicago to further refine the curriculum. The next session will take place in North Carolina, and [there will be a session] in Ohio after that.
"Martin said the aim of the program is for judges to be "problem-solving judges."
"Problem-solving judges need to be marshaling the community to make sure the restorations are there," Martin said, such as making sure treatment options are available if a drug court is established in the state. "In the past judges said, ‘I can’t talk to anybody; I might compromise my neutrality.’ With children and families you can’t think that way."
Additionally, he has been involved in the renovation of the Busiel Mill at One Mill Plaza where his office is located, as well as in plans to renovate the Laconia parking garage, as well as taken part in other projects in Gilford and Belmont.
After his retirement as a judge, Martin will continue his law practice. Additionally, he plans to run for state senate in District 3.
"I feel like an adolescent," he said. "Suddenly you have all these life choices you’ve got to make."
In the meantime, Martin is looking forward to maple sugaring at his home in Sandwich. His syrup won a blue ribbon at the 2007 Sandwich Fair and placed third for the state’s Carlisle Awards.
Retirement also includes spending more time with his family, including his wife Margaret Demos, and his 14-year-old daughter Gayla.
"I try to make every basketball game on the Inter-Lakes JV team," he said.