The AZ NOW Board named the award after her in recognition of her persistence in the case against Juan Martinez.
For 30 years, courthouse staff, county attorney staff, and attorneys on both sides have endured Juan Martinez’ sexual predations. He groped them, humiliated them, pursued them, made lewd suggestions, and commented on their weight and appearance.
When confronted, he said “oops” and laughed like it was nothing – because it was nothing to him. And to his bosses at the Maricopa County Attorney’s office and to the State Bar.
Over the years, most of the women he harassed did not file complaints because they were afraid. If they were interns or secretaries, they were afraid of losing their jobs in this “at will” state or being labeled “troublemakers.” If they were attorneys, they were afraid of harming their reputations as being seen as too “sensitive”, “drama queens” or “humorless shrinking violets.”
The women feared he was too powerful to stop and to complain would only hurt them. One attorney thought, “Well if I just ignore him, he will get the message that I’m not interested and stop.” It didn’t work. Because that is not how you deal with predators and bullies. You must knock them down the very first time so they know you are not a “mark.”
The most recent affair that finally took him down was the Arias case that started in 2013. He leaked information to a married blogger he was sleeping with, including the identification of a solitary female “hold out” juror in an effort to get her off the jury and clear the way for a death sentence. Then he lied under oath to the State Bar about it. The State Bar was more concerned about his lying to them than his decades of harassing women.
Over the years, at least four appellate judges commented about his unprofessional tactics in death penalty cases and their concerns were part of their written opinions. Still, they did not reverse the cases or turn him into the Bar.
Juan, for his part, played the victim. First, he denied everything. Then, he minimized it. Then he attacked the women. Does this sound like someone else we know on the national scene?
Not until Montgomery left, being shamefully shoved up to the Supreme Court, was any accountability manifested when acting county attorney, Rachel Mitchell, transferred him to the auto theft department in 2019 to have more time to focus on his bar charges.
Finally, after Karen Clark filed six different charges against him, he was fired by Allister Adel, the second woman in that position, in February 2020 and then he accepted disbarment on July 17, 2020.
But he was never found guilty on ethical charges because sexual harassment by attorneys is not unethical – according to the AZ State Bar. Three times we have tried to change that; three times we have failed.
Eventually 17 women: law clerks, judicial assistants, prosecutors and a defense attorney, two jurors, a blogger and a probation supervisor testified that he had been inappropriate. Eleven women talked to the Arizona Republic about the allegations.
In 1990, his then boss County Attorney Bill Montgomery, now on the AZ Supreme Court, overlooked the complaints. Not only did he overlook the behavior, but when an investigation was done, he sealed the record in 2018 so that no one could find out how thorough he was to enable this sexual abuser.
Dozens of allegations of sexual harassment, ethical violations, and prosecutorial misconduct had been filed since 2013 and the State Bar did nothing. Only one case went ahead – prosecutorial misconduct in 3 death penalty cases, in which he got disciplined – lectured without consequences.
Three women filed charges to the bar between 2008-2013. A court reporter went to the Bar. They took no action. One woman reported it to the woman judge who ignored it and now denies she ever heard it.
Martinez’ attorney said that staring, looking, flirting, and complimenting on a person’s appearance cannot ever be offensive. That is clearly the “male gaze” to think that leering at women in any setting, especially a professional one, is acceptable.
While the office staff felt they could not complain, they created their own warning system and would disappear into the bathroom when he was coming. In 1991 he was reprimanded by a woman supervisor for his behavior but from then on, only raises and praises from male bosses.
Only in 2017 after a male attorney reported the allegations of female staffers was an internal investigation done at MCAO. Eventually 30 people were questioned and since the clerks and prosecutors were still scared, none came forward on their own. This is the internal report that Bill Montgomery, who claims to care about victims of crime, sealed.
After that investigation, in 2018, MCAO gave Martinez a written reprimand and instructed to watch a webinar on sexual harassment -- but he kept his position and money, and the same women still had to put up with him. He didn’t appeal that reprimand but whined that it was inappropriate and he was the victim of an inquisition.
Finally, the State Bar subpoenaed the investigation and in 2019 filed a formal complaint that was dismissed by the judge. The Bar appealed and that was reversed by the Supreme Court.
Karen Clark must be given credit for finally taking this sexual predator down. She filed a bar charge against Arias’ attorney for writing a book about her case. He was eventually disbarred. Next Clark received information about misconduct by Martinez in the Arias case. In 2017, she filed a complaint about leaking material through the married blogger who he was having sex with. In 2018 the bar predictably dismissed it and she objected which caused more material to come in.
She filed more bar charges based on a flood of information about Martinez, other misconduct in the case, his own book about it, and sexual harassment of women throughout the justice system in Maricopa County. Finally, the Supreme Court reversed the dismissal and ordered a separate investigation. Clark filed three separate charges for 3 courthouse employees. She provided the names of 18 women in total to the State Bar.
In 2019, Clark filed yet another charge against Martinez for writing of a book about the trial – before the appeals in the case had concluded! She filed a separate bar charge against Montgomery for failing to supervise Martinez, among other things. That bar charge is still pending.
So finally, Martinez is removed from the Maricopa County Prosecutor’s office, and finally he has lost his bar license and can no longer practice law (at 63), but it has taken decades despite of voluminous evidence. And it never would have happened without the initiative, intelligence and especially tenacity of one woman – Karen Clark.
For that, we want to thank you for all women. Your work exemplifies why it is important to have women at the table – in every instance. And your victory helps to bring women one step closer to equality. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the women who suffered, for the women who won’t suffer because he was finally taken down, and for the little girls who can hope to grow up in a better world.