Candidate Questionnaire: Crystal Wise Martin | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Candidate Questionnaire: Crystal Wise Martin

Fast Facts About Crystal Wise Martin

Age: 46

Title of Specific District/Position Campaigning for:

Hinds County Chancery Court Judge Sub district 2

Educational Background:

I am a graduate of Callaway High School. I received my Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemistry from Spelman College and a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering Degree from Georgia Tech. I received my J.D. from the University of Mississippi School of Law.

Professional Background:

I have been practicing law for over twenty years, both in the private and government practice. I have served as special master hearing civil commitments in Hinds County Chancery Court. I was the attorney for the Hinds County Board of Supervisors for several years, practiced with several law firms in Jackson and took over Precious Martin & Associates, after my husband's death. I also serve as an Assistant Hinds County Prosecutor. I am a member of the Mississippi Bar Association. During my membership with the Mississippi Bar Association, I served as a Young Lawyer Division Representative and member of the Summer School for Lawyers committee. I am life member of the Magnolia Bar Association, where I served as past President and past Secretary. I am a member of the Capital Area Bar Association. I currently serve as a member-at-large and board member of the Board of Trustees with the Mississippi Bar Foundation. I am a board member of the Bessie Young Council. I currently serve as a bencher for the Charles Clark Inns of Court. I am an executive board member of the Mississippi Association of Justice and a member of the American Associates of Justice where I serve as the Mississippi Minority Caucus delegate.

Place of Residence:

Hinds County, Mississippi

Spouse/children (if applicable):

I am the wife of the late Precious Martin Sr. Precious and I have four children, Precious Martin Jr., Daniel Martin, Alyssa Martin and Anna Martin.

Please list any endorsements you have received to date:

I have been endorsed by Senator David Blount, Representative Credell Calhoun, Attorney Robert Gibbs, Supervisor Robert Graham, Supervisor Peggy Calhoun, Dr. Jerry Young (National Baptist Convention USA President and Pastor of New Hope M.B. Church), Pastor R.K. Moore (Stronger Hope M.B. Church), Pastor Danny Ray Hollins (Grace Inspirations Church), Michael Thompson Radio Show Host 90.1, Pastor Ernest Slaughter, Sr., Attorney Chuck McRae, Union President Brenda Scott, Willie Jones (President Women for Progress), Constable Lawrence Funchess, Constable John Brown, Rev. Clifton Jackson, Attorney Kenya and Tommie Martin, Attorneys Deshun and Vaterria Martin, Jackson Advocate, Attorney Joe Tatum, Attorney Dennis Sweet and Kimberly Noel Sweet, Johnny "Boosie" Morrrow and Gloria Jones.

If you have run for this judicial seat before, please state when. (If you are an incumbent, please cite years in current position): Not applicable.

The Jackson Free Press reached out to all judicial candidates who are running on the Nov. 6 ballot to represent jurisdictions throughout the Jackson Metro Area, regardless of whether they had a challenger or not. Each candidate received the same questionnaire. We've published their responses in full below, with minimal edits for editorial/reader clarity only. The JFP did not copyedit or line-edit candidate responses. The views expressed by candidates do not necessarily reflect the views of the JFP.

Why do you want to serve Hinds County right now?

Currently, Hinds County is seeing some trying times. I want to serve Hinds County to make communities whole again. Judges who serve in Chancery Court hear matters concerning children, the elderly, death, families and land disputes, among other things. When citizens come to chancery court, they are vulnerable and facing life altering situations. In the role of Chancery Court Judge, I believe that I can serve as a facilitator to creating whole communities. In order to do this, we must first begin with protecting our youth, elderly and family units. I am confident that based on my life experiences and my professional experiences, that I am the best candidate to serve Hinds County as Chancellor for Sub district 2.

Provide one or two examples of your legal and/or judicial experience when you have made an impact in Hinds County, and describe the result.

I presently serve Hinds County as a Hinds County Assistant Prosecutor. As Assistant Prosecutor, I have witnessed instances where children have been abused and neglected. In each of these matters, I have worked closely with child protective services to provide an ideal home environment for the children. When children feel safe and loved, they typically turn into better citizens for the community. As I mentioned earlier, I believe I can help foster whole communities and that first begins with protecting our youth, the elderly and family units. "Whole" does not necessarily mean mother, father and children, but rather a loving family unit. So, that may mean aunts and grandparents raising nephews, nieces and grandchildren. The idea is to provide the environment where individuals can thrive and the community can thrive. As a current single mother, my whole family consists of me raising my four children with the help of my parents. Creating whole families will ultimately create a more loving environment in Hinds County. Where there is a more loving environment, there is more safety and accountability.

Do you think there is anything that can be done in a judicial capacity to alleviate or reduce crime in your jurisdiction?

A chancellor does not hear criminal matters. I believe some of the crimes being committed are being committed by those who are battling mental illness. Chancellors hear civil commitments. Civil commitments are when an individual with concerns about a loved one petitions the judge for involuntary treatment for individuals with severe mental illnesses who cannot seek care voluntarily.

Also, another type of crime which impacts or springs from family disputes is domestic violence. In some cases, individuals are committing these crimes because the family unit is battling deeper psychological issues. A chancellor has the authority to order those individuals to counseling (individual and/or family) and rehabilitation programs, when necessary. This authority helps deter crime because the individuals are getting the help they need. Community education on the availability of these alternate resolutions will help alleviate crime in sub district 2.

In the past year or so, what has been the most consequential/at-risk issue facing the area you wish to serve and what do you plan to do about it?

I believe that one of the most consequential/at-risk issues facing Hinds County is the frustration and lack of trust in the justice system. Truthfully, this is an issue that is affecting this nation. Individuals within this district and all of Hinds County do not feel that they have access to the justice system. Individuals feel that the judges lack patience and understanding towards individuals who are not represented by counsel and cannot afford legal representation. As the next Chancery Court Judge of Hinds County, I will make a concerted effort to truly listen to the individuals that enter the courtroom. I will also make sure that I am patient, but efficient in hearing matters that come before me.

As an attorney, I have dedicated my professional life to providing access to justice to indigent individuals by participating and hosting expungment clinics and wills workshops. I have also participated in guardianship clinics. As the next Chancery Court Judge of Hinds County, I will continue to work with organizations such as the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project and the Mississippi Access to Justice Commission to provide access to our court system to all individuals no matter their economic status.

What are the characteristics of a good judge, and how do your characteristics compare?

A good person makes a good judge. I believe the characteristics of a good person are compassion, humility, integrity and understanding. Further, I believe that the characteristics of a good judge are the ability to listen first and render judgment later all while being efficient in hearing matters that come before them. I believe a good judge is fair and impartial to individuals despite color, gender, economic status or relationship. I am confident that I will be a good judge because my faith and life experiences have taught me to be compassionate, humble, understanding, and unbiased.

What sets you apart in this race?

Throughout my years of practice, especially as the owner of Precious Martin and Associates, PLLC, I have dealt with all sorts of legal issues for clients ranging from child custody issues to business disputes that are heard in chancery courts. My firm, under my leadership, has handled complex brain and burn injury cases, medical malpractice cases and even pharmaceutical liability cases.

Some candidates believe that "judicial experience" is necessary in order to be a good candidate for the position. To me, this ideology is flawed because it assumes that in order to be a judge you need judicial experience. Before assuming the bench, all judges were attorneys, like myself. Judicial experience does not make the candidate; rather, it is those life experiences that shape you as a person that matters most. What sets me apart is my life experiences. Life is the best teacher. I know what it feels like to be a litigant. I've also heard stories from other litigants in the courtroom, of not having a voice. So, I will be a compassionate, understanding and unbiased judge.

If you are unsuccessful in your race, how specifically will you continue working on behalf of your district?

If I am unsuccessful in my race, I will continue to give back to the community by participating in community festivals and forums. Furthermore, I will continue to advocate for those individuals that are constantly overlooked and to provide access to justice to indigent individuals by participating and hosting legal clinics. I will continue to operate my law firm Precious Martin Sr. & Associates, PLLC with attorneys Suzanne Keys, RaToya Gilmer and Rafael Green. We will continue to be real people helping real people by providing legal representation to individuals within Hinds County and surroundings areas.

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