Norristown, Pa. lawyer Donald J. Martin will be named the 88th president of the Montgomery Bar Association during the group’s annual business luncheon today, the association announced in a news release posted on its website.
Martin, of Philadelphia, will take over the helm from current bar association president Carolyn T. Carluccio, the first sitting judge to serve in the top officer position of the Montgomery County, Pa. lawyer’s association since its founding in 1885.
Martin’s elevation will mark another first: he’ll be the first openly gay president of the suburban lawyer’s association since its inception.
Martin, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Chicago Law School, has been a practicing attorney since the early 1970s.
Since 1979, he has specialized in appellate matters, motions and assisting fellow attorneys in the preparation and trial of complex cases, a bio of Martin on the association’s website states.
Martin also served as a law clerk in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas specializing in asbestos litigation beginning in 1981, and has been a law clerk to all senior county judges since 1998; he was appointed law clerk for complex litigation in 2002.
Martin, who continues to serve in Montgomery County’s Common Pleas Court as an appointed judicial officer, is a member of the Montgomery, Pennsylvania and American Bar Associations, as well as the Montgomery County Trial Lawyers Section.
Martin served as a director of the Montgomery Bar Association from 1986 to 1989, as its secretary in 2008, its treasurer in 2009, its vice president in 2010 and its president-elect in 2011, his bio states.
Friday’s ceremony is significant in that it will mark the first time an openly gay attorney will serve as the bar association’s president since the group’s founding in 1885.
Martin has long worked on behalf of the gay community in Pennsylvania, according to a December profile piece in the Philadelphia Gay News, a local publication catering to the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community.
In 1979, Martin wrote an amicus brief urging the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to decriminalize sodomy between unmarried people in the commonwealth, the newspaper article stated.
“The statute historically had been cited as a reason to deny LGBTs their rights,” Martin told the Gay News.
The following year, the high court scrapped the statute, ruling it unconstitutional. Martin views that pivotal moment as a major highlight of his career.
“No longer would LGBTs be considered criminals in Pennsylvania,” Martin told the publication. “People couldn’t say, ‘They’re criminals, therefore they shouldn’t have rights.' That was very gratifying. And I hope it did some good.”
On Jan. 13, when Martin receives the president’s gavel, his partner of 32 years, Richard Repetto, will be in attendance looking on.
The two reside in downtown Philadelphia.
As for his president’s term, Martin told the Gay News that he hopes to use his time at the helm of the Montgomery Bar Association as a chance to offer enhanced legal services for all residents of Montgomery County, including young people and those living in poverty.
“To the extent it’s feasible, everyone should have access to quality legal representation” he was quoted as saying. “Things are easier when everyone in the case has a lawyer, rather than when people are representing themselves.