James W. Martens
I grew up in a what was then a small North Dakota town. My mom taught school for over 30 years at the elementary and junior high level and my dad worked his way up in the cattle business eventually becoming a minority partner in a commission firm at the local stockyards. For many years as a kid, I worked side-by-side with him in the chutes and alleys and often accompanied him "out in the country" buying cattle, where he would ask farmers and ranchers to put their trust in him to get them the best price at market.
As an attorney, like my dad, I ask people every day to put their trust in me to get them the best results under the circumstances. Whether it's defending them in a criminal case or DUI, helping resolve a real estate dispute, assisting with a probate or providing a title opinion, I put in the same time and dedication I learned from my parents. Fortunately, unlike dad, I do not have to worry as much about cleaning off my boots at the end of the day.
In the years I have been in the legal profession I have had the benefit to work across many areas of the law. I found that my strengths as an attorney lie in the areas I enjoy working in the most - criminal law, oil & gas, and probate.
Prior to opening Martens PLLC, I worked in the oil & gas industry as an independent landman and attorney, focusing on mineral title examination. In these roles, I prepared drilling, division order and acquisition title opinions, as well as landman's opinions, for lease brokers, operators, and mineral purchasers looking to capitalize on the Bakken play in North Dakota. I also spent a great deal of time working on title and probate matters concerning Indian Trust Lands on the Fort Berthold Reservation, performed a number of due diligence and title curative tasks in well and leasehold acquisitions, and led a large team effort on an acquisition concerning thousands of acres across seven different counties.
As the Bakken play matured, I recognized a growing need for attorneys with experience in the oil industry to assist industry clients and mineral owners with title curative tasks, as well as an increased need for criminal defense attorneys. Seeing an opportunity to expand my practice and an opportunity to get back into criminal law, I opened up a formal office and started my law firm, Martens PLLC, in March 2014. Since then, I have assisted clients with probates and other title-related matters, and helped accused clients achieve successful resolutions of their criminal matters.
In addition to my work as a criminal defense and oil & gas attorney, I have assisted clients in starting businesses, changing entity forms, and mergers and acquisitions. I have also assisted clients in purchasing and selling real estate - from condos to large agricultural tracts.
My courtroom and litigation experience is wide ranging. I have represented clients in a variety of litigated matters including mineral and surface title disputes, quiet title actions, probate and trust disputes, debt collection (representing both creditors and debtors), and landlord-tenant disputes, as well as defending clients against an array of misdemeanor and felony criminal charges.
I got my start in criminal law as a third year law student, trying three jury trials as a summer intern with the Burleigh County State's Attorney, and reviewing police reports to recommend charges the following fall as an intern with the Cass County State's Attorney - the two busiest prosecutors offices in North Dakota at the time. I also interned with the North Dakota Office of Attorney General and Insurance Department and worked as a research clerk for the Minneapolis-based international law firm of Dorsey & Whitney LLP in their Fargo office while attending law school.
When I'm not busy working for my clients, I like to spend time at home with my family and as much time as I can outdoors - hunting, fishing, or just floating down the Missouri on the boat. My wife and I are also big football and baseball fans.
Areas Of Practice
- Oil & Gas
- Criminal Defense
- Real Estate
- North Dakota
- U.S. District Court District of North Dakota
- University of North Dakota School of Law, Grand Forks, North Dakota
- Concordia College
Honors and Awards
- Super Lawyers 2016 Great Plains Rising Stars list
- Super Lawyers
Professional Associations and Memberships
- State Bar Association of North Dakota (SBAND), Real Property, Probate & Trust Section
- State Bar Association of North Dakota (SBAND), Criminal Lawyers Section
- North Dakota Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
- Landman’s Association of North Dakota (LAND)
- National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL)
- National College for DUI Defense (NCDD)
- DUI Defense Lawyers Association (DUIDLA)
- American Association of Professional Landmen (AAPL)
- Bruce M. Van Sickle American Inn of Court
- National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)
Past Employment Positions
- Burleigh County State’s Attorney, Summer Intern
- Cass County State’s Attorney, Intern
- North Dakota Office of Attorney General and Insurance Department, Intern
- Dorsey & Whitney LLP, Research Clerk
Pro Bono Activities
- Dakota Petroleum Club
- Pheasants Forever
- Ducks Unlimited