SENATOR MARTHA M. ESCUTIA (Retired; PARTNER EMERITUS)
Martha is The Senators Firm's Co-Founding Partner. Martha retired from the firm's partnership in 2012 and is acting as Vice President for Government Affairs at the University of Southern California. She is currently on inactive bar status but retains the honorary title of Partner Emeritus to the firm.
EDUCATION AND EXPERIENCE
Senator Martha M. Escutia (Ret.) is a consultant, litigator, and former member of the California State Legislature where she spent 14 years in both the Assembly and State Senate. Martha's legislative experience and law practice reflects her devotion to preventing crimes of abuse against children and sexual abuse in general.
Martha graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Southern California and received her law degree from Georgetown University. She served in the California legislature from 1992 to 2006, and early in her career was appointed to the leadership of the Rules Committee. In that role, she crafted internal rules against sexual harassment applicable to members of the legislature. She also developed the Sexual Harassment Training Module, which to this day is mandatory reading material for members of the California legislature. She is most proud of changes in California laws she authored and helped to pass in 2003, which protect the rights of victims of sexual abuse, and which resulted in justice and compensation for thousands of citizens who were abused as children.
During her legislative career, Martha was considered the "children's champion," focusing on bills which provided for a healthy child, both physically and emotionally. As Chair of the Senate Health Committee, she passed legislation to rid schools of junk foods. Later, as Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Martha ensured access to the court system by the poor and most vulnerable. She developed the first ever Self Help Centers to assist unrepresented victims of negligence, abuse and fraud, and helped to ensure that children would have their own court-appointed advocates, especially in contentious child custody cases.
Martha has represented many sexual abuse survivors in lawsuits seeking damages. In 2012, Martha was called upon to represent a large number of young children abused by teachers at Miramonte Elementary School in the Los Angeles Unified School District. When the Miramonte abuse scandal surfaced, she quickly organized the immigrant and Spanish-speaking community to unite and demand answers from the school district. She also drafted a "Parents Bill of Rights" which informed parents of their rights in order to help ensure the safety of their children at school. Martha was also called upon to help represent survivors of sexual abuse by members of the clergy.
Martha has been an outspoken advocate for transparency and full disclosure of information about perpetrators of abuse from school administrators, churches, youth organizations, and others who attempt to prevent such information from coming to light. .
AWARDS AND RECOGNITION
Martha was the recipient of numerous awards including the 2010 JFK Profiles in Courage Award by the Los Angeles County Democratic Party; the 2007 Commitment to Justice Award by the California Supreme Court; Top 100 Lawyers in the County of Los Angeles and the State of California by the Los Angeles Daily Journal; the Women In Government Award by Good Housekeeping Magazine; and the Environmental Leadership Award by the Sierra Club.
Martha spends much of her time away from her law practice engaged in advocating for human rights throughout the world. She is a volunteer trainer for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). As a USAID consultant, Martha has trained women legislators in Bolivia in areas such as family law and civil rights. She has traveled to Europe to lecture on immigration issues impacting women in the Americas, including human trafficking. Back home, Martha has been a Board Member of the California Emerging Technology Fund where she serves as the Chair of the Urban Neighborhoods Initiative.
As a single mom of two teenage boys, Martha spends time with her sons playing music and attending sports events. In her spare time, Martha is an avid photographer and is coach of the 7th grade Carden School Mock Trial team. She is presently learning to dance flamenco.