News Release

Judge J. Thomas Marten Receives the  Judicial Recognition Award  from Nation’s Criminal Defense Bar

Washington, DC (March 6, 2023) – Retired Federal District Court Judge J. Thomas Marten of the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas received the Judicial Recognition Award at NACDL’s board meeting in New Orleans on March 4, 2023. NACDL presents its Judicial Recognition Award  to acknowledge judges who demonstrate a continuing dedication to protecting democratic principles and the fundamental rights of individuals within American society.

NACDL honored Judge Marten in recognition of his notable legal career and service to federal criminal justice, including nearly 15 years as an attorney with a civil and criminal defense practice who accepted federal appointments prior to his 25 years of public service on the bench. Judge Marten, a Fellow of the American Bar Association, had been a member of NACDL when President Bill Clinton appointed him in 1996.
NACDL President Nellie L. King stated:
"Criminal defense attorneys who practiced before Judge Marten found him to be fair-minded and humane in considering the unique circumstances of each case, treating all parties impartially with true respect and dignity. Judge Marten has a reputation for believing that people are capable of redemption and seeking to give them a chance to transform their lives. He has often directed that the United States Probation Office work in creative and novel ways to assist an accused person in coping with obstacles which could interfere with their rehabilitation or success. Judge Marten has also served federal criminal justice by organizing the Kansas Legal Revitalization Conference, which brought nationally acclaimed lawyers, judges, professors, artists, and activists to Kansas City to, in his words, ‘rediscover individual and systematic idealism in our work, to discovery fresh ways of approaching our work, and to establish new professional boundaries and goals.’ Judge Marten is truly deserving of this honor."

Judge Marten was instrumental in the creation of the Wesley E. Brown Inn of Court in Wichita, Kansas. This Inn is distinguished by the diversity of its membership, which is partly attributable to Judge Marten’s efforts to invite and involve attorneys from many backgrounds and experiences. 

See a complete list of past winners of the Judicial Recognition Award.

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Kate Holden, NACDL Public Affairs and Communications Associate, (202) 465-7624 or

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.