State Supreme Court law clerk resigns after criticism of his past

Peter Martel
Posted at 6:57 PM, Jan 05, 2023

LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ) — A Michigan Supreme Court law clerk resigned after criticism over his past. On his first day on the job, Peter Martel decided to make it his last.

He was hired by newly elected Justice Kyra Harris Bolden. Justice Richard Bernstein said he was 'disgusted' by the decision because of Martel's record.

“I feel strongly about this issue. I feel it had to be addressed. I feel it had to be remedied," Bernstein told 7 Action News.

Martel had spent 14 years in prison for robbing a store in the Flint-area as well as shooting at police officers. The crime happened in 1994, and he was released in 2008.

He changed his life for the better and obtained a law degree from Wayne State University.

As a Michigan Supreme Court law clerk, Martel would have researched cases and provide his input on court opinions. However, Bernstein said he believes certain jobs are off limits after certain life choices are made.

“Ultimately, when we talk about redemption and when we talk about second chances we all believe in that. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you get to have whatever job you want," Bernstein said.

“I think that once you decide that you’re going to shoot at police, I think that no matter what you do in terms of, like, your redemptions or those kinds of things, there’s lots of other opportunities," he explained.

This afternoon, Martel resigned following criticism of his appointment.

7 Action News spoke with him briefly prior to the announcement of his resignation. He said he was unsure if he should speak on the matter.

In the following statement released through the court, Justice Harris Bolden said, “I have accepted Pete Martel’s resignation. He did not want to be a distraction or in any way divert the court from its important work. I respect his decision and do not intend to comment further.”

7 Action News also spoke with Alexandria Hughes with Michigan Liberation where she's the Supreme Court coordinator and a community activist.

“I was of the belief that Justice Bernstein was in agreement with second chances and the ability to be great to thrive and for me this demonstrates that he has bias in favor of law enforcement," Hughes said.

“I trust Kyra Bolden’s ability to hire the right people for this job," she said.

"And with the experience he brings as an advocate and seeing both sides of being incarcerated, being on the inside, but also having that… bringing that personal experience into it and how he has turned his life around, I think that would’ve been a great element for the Michigan Supreme Court," Hughes explained.