Former Prosecutor Donald E. Martin dies

By Roberta Gubbins

Legal News

Donald E. Martin, senior attorney with Foster Swift and former Ingham County Prosecutor, died after a battle with leukemia on Wednesday, Jan. 11. He was 71.

He was born Dec. 20, 1940, in Greenville, OH, the son of Stanley and Mildred Martin.

Donald graduated from Capital University, Columbus, Ohio and Valparaiso University School of Law. He served as the Ingham County Prosecuting Attorney from 1986-1996. He then joined Foster, Swift, Collins and Smith where he served as partner and senior attorney for the past 15 years.

"Don," said Webb Smith, Senior Shareholder at Foster, Swift, "had a distinguished career on both sides of the criminal docket and as a lawyer in general, so when he finished being the Prosecuting Attorney, I approached him to question whether he might have interest in joining the Foster firm. To the benefit of the firm, he agreed and that led to many good years together. He was a solid partner who represented many clients and willingly mentored young lawyers. He has left a legacy that will be remembered for a long time. He will be missed by all of us who were lucky to have practiced with him."

"Don was a real professional," said Frank Reynolds, criminal defense attorney and long time friend, "if he told you something that is exactly what would happen. He was very approachable and although he and I had some differences of opinion at times, he was always professional."

Reynolds remembered that "when I was approached about joining the firm" (Foster, Swift), Don called and "we went out to lunch at his favorite place, Champs in Eastwood Mall. He liked those great big hamburgers. We spent a long time talking and he is one of the reasons that I am here."

Don's passion for justice led him to hold many leadership roles including appointments to the Judicial Qualifications Committee for the State Bar of Michigan, the Michigan Supreme Court's Commission to the Michigan Appellate Assigned Counsel System and serving a term as the President of the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan.

He was chair of the Appellate Defender Committee of the State Appellate Defender Office (SADO). He was active in the Ingham County Bar Association and the American Inns of Court at Michigan State University's College of Law.

Donald was also active in his community and the Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church in Lansing where he served as president of the Council, Chair of the board of Stewardship and the Building Committee and Sponsor of the Luther League.

He was chair of the Capital Area Family Violence Coordinating Committee, Capitol Area Response Effort and a member of the Family Independence Agency's Strong Families/Safe Children's Advisory Council. He acted as sponsor of the Boy Scouts of America Law Explorer Post, served on the Boards of Directors for the Oak Park YMCA and the Michigan Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence.

Don, who referred to his teaching as a hobby, was instructor for Lansing Community College's Mid-Michigan Police Academy and its Criminal Justice program.

He is survived by his wife of 45 years, Dorothy; sons, Jonathan (fiancée Jessica Root) Martin, David (Shelly) Martin and Jeremy (Gabriela) Martin; four grandchildren; brother, Daniel Joe (Katie) Martin; sister, Ann Sieg; and many special aunts, nieces, nephews and cousins.

Funeral services were held on Saturday, Jan. 14 at the Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church in Lansing. Memorial contributions may be made to Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church Memorial Fund.

Published: Tue, Jan 24, 2012