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Regi Martin- Greene County Circuit Court

reggie-martinShe worked in a textile factory, owned a bar and grill and even had her own fabric business.

And all of that was after Regi Martin earned her law degree.

“I was in the private sector for 17 years,” said the Springfield native. She said she thought she’d never practice law again after spending much of her legal career in Texas, where she earned her degree from Southern Methodist University in 1984.

But Martin, who didn’t take the bar in her own home state until 2007, opened a family law office nonetheless. In 2016, she took her present job, having been appointed as a family court commissioner in Greene County.

“I’ve done a lot of guardian ad litem work over the years, and I think that is something that led me to apply for this job because I had been out in the trenches,” Martin said.

Ultimately, she’s found that she enjoys those trenches.

“The rewarding thing is that frequently I’m thanked by litigants, and that’s what makes the job worthwhile when you know they really appreciate that somebody has been listening to what they have to say and helping them get through something that is far more difficult for them than I think they really imagined,” she said.

Martin said her philosophy is to be prepared and be respectful. Her nominators describe her similarly as intelligent, patient and thorough.

“She is especially good with pro se litigants,” writes one. “She takes her time to make sure that everyone coming before her feels like they have had an adequate opportunity to be heard.”

Martin herself noted that this was an important aspect of her work because not everyone has the ability to obtain an attorney.

“Some people just simply can’t afford them so it gives us an opportunity to help people who really need to just get down the road with their lives,” she said. “We have certain days of the week that they can come in, and we can help them get their cases done and make sure they have all their paperwork done and, if not, explain to them what they need to do.”

She also said there were special “high-conflict” classes to help defuse the tension in some matters.

“It gives us an opportunity to help these people resolve their personal issues before they get out of court and hopefully help them have a little bit healthier relationship in the future when it comes to their kids,” Martin said.

That kind of personalized attention befits a commissioner who originally wanted a career as a psychologist. After obtaining her psychology degree, she began looking at graduate school but instead spoke to a friend who was already in law school.

“As I started talking to her about what she was doing, the classes and what the career was like, I changed my mind at the last minute,” she remembered. “I took the LSAT and applied to law school.”