UT law professor Erin Martinson announces run for Travis County District Attorney

Mackenzie Dyer

Erin Martinson, an adjunct professor at the UT School of Law, announced earlier this month she is joining the 2020 Democratic primary race for Travis County District Attorney. She is now one of two challengers to incumbent Margaret Moore. 

Martinson, former managing attorney for Advocates of Victims of Crime at the Texas Legal Services Center, said her primary motivation for challenging Moore was the lack of support she saw from Travis County leadership in terms of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse cases.

“I’ve represented criminal defendants, I’ve represented families in the CPS system, and throughout that time, I’ve consistently heard from my clients that … there’s not enough support for them through the process,” Martinson said. “I think we have an obligation to hear those needs to the best of our ability and seek justice for them.”

Martinson said she served as a victim advocate in Travis County for 20 years. Upon graduating from UT in 1999, she went on to work for the Women’s Advocacy Project, later renamed the Texas Advocacy Project. At the Project, she worked on a grant that prioritized cases of women arrested for crimes related to their victimization and said she had a 95% dismissal rate on her cases. 

Martinson said she feels Travis County leadership does not emphasize training on how to effectively communicate with victims. If elected, she said she wants to implement specialized prosecutor groups within the Criminal Justice Division. 

“Everything is so formulaic,” Martinson said. “It’s not taking each family and hearing what they need. Every family has different needs.”

Martinson later worked as chief of the Protective Order Division at the County Attorney’s Office. Then the Texas Legal Services Center recruited her to make changes in criminal justice advocacy work, an issue Martinson said she saw a need for in Travis County.

Martinson is scheduled to teach “Domestic Violence and the Law” — a class she took as a law student that inspired her to do the work she is doing today — at UT in spring 2020. She has taught this class since spring 2016.

When it comes to the district attorney race, Martinson said she wants to draw from her experience defending Travis County’s vulnerable.

“I want each victim’s voice to be heard; I want to consider each defendant’s story,” Martinson said. “I really would like to seek out deeper, more meaningful resolutions to these cases.”