MEET ERIN MARTINSON
Raised by a fierce feminist and a father who taught me to dream big, I grew up with a strong sense of social justice. We moved around between Colorado, Oklahoma, and Texas until, in my junior year of high school, Texas became my permanent home. Not familiar with Texas schools, I applied to several small liberal arts colleges and chose the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio for its beautiful campus and institutional commitment to community service. While there, I joined a co-ed service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, and spent much of my four years there getting to know the surrounding San Antonio community. It was during college that I truly developed my desire to help others.
When I first attended college, I imagined becoming a therapist or social worker, but because my mom was in law school at the same time, I could see that practicing law seemed like the perfect marriage of social work and community service. In my junior year, I changed my focus and was accepted to the University of Texas, School of Law. I can’t say that I loved law school, but there were a handful of experiences and courses that were transformative for me. These included the summer I spent handling a capital appeal for a death row inmate, representing individuals through the Criminal Defense Clinic, meeting my husband, and the Domestic Violence and the Law seminar taught by the formidable Sarah Buel, a survivor of horrific intimate partner violence. This class proved to be turning point for me and inspired me to find work representing battered women upon graduation. Today, I am truly honored to be teaching that very same class at UT Law.
For the past 20 years, I have represented thousands of women and children, helping them find safety, strength and independence in the wake of the violence they experienced. For three years, I was a criminal defense attorney, specializing in representing women who had been arrested for crimes related to their victimization. I also led the Protective Order division at the Travis County Attorney’s office for 12 years. In that capacity—with the trust and support of management—I transformed the division into a model division for best practices in protective order practice. During this time, I also travelled the state providing training for other prosecutors on a trauma-informed approach to protective orders. Meanwhile, my husband and I had three beautiful children: Wylie, Tucker, and Hattie. We have spent the last 15 years juggling our careers and children, running to hundreds of soccer, baseball, and football games, and trying to instill in our children a sense of gratitude and kindness. The process of raising kids while working full time has been quite a journey, but my family has provided much needed light and support throughout my career.
In 2016, I was approached by Texas Legal Services Center with an opportunity to lead their statewide crime victims program. Eager for a change and the chance to broaden my impact, I accepted the position and have been there since. Representing women all over the state has given me a unique insight into the civil and criminal justice systems. At TLSC, we began seeing a demand for representation of victims in criminal cases who often need assistance with navigating the justice system, providing a voice for them within that system and holding prosecutors accountable for upholding these victims’ rights. Providing this representation for victims caught in the criminal justice system has been groundbreaking work, and I have received several requests for training on asserting and upholding victims’ rights from social service agencies, legal aid attorneys, prosecutors and law enforcement.
The work that I have done for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking, has put me on the frontlines of the criminal justice system for two decades. In this position, I have heard from many victims and offenders and have watched the system tear families and entire communities apart. I have seen that our current system is not focused on transforming people’s lives, but is intent on punishing people of color, the poor, and individuals suffering from addiction and mentally illnesses. I have seen money and status buy justice. I have heard from countless women that they do not want their abusers to go to jail, and I have talked with violent perpetrators whose entire lives were colored by the violence they experienced as children. I have seen the same men come back, year after year, with different partners because there are no thoughtful interventions to interrupt lifetime cycles of violence. I am tired of watching lives be destroyed and am ready to begin a thoughtful dialog with our community about how we can improve our criminal justice response. I believe I owe it to my kids, my parents, my husband, and my community to run for the office of the Travis County District Attorney’s Office and I am excited about the work we can do together.
Contact the Campaign
Mailing: PO Box 4482 Austin, TX 78765 Phone: (512) 522-9763