Matthew T. Martens represents clients in high-stakes criminal and civil matters from investigation through, if necessary, trial. He has defended clients in investigations by the SEC, PCAOB, FINRA, state attorneys general, and the US Department of Justice.
In 2017, he obtained a complete dismissal with prejudice of a SEC enforcement action alleging securities fraud that was brought against a prominent public official in federal court in Texas. Martens has more than 20 jury trials in both state and federal courts in New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Florida, Illinois and California.
He joined WilmerHale after a long career of government service, first in the US Department of Justice during the George W. Bush administration, and later as Chief Litigation Counsel for the Division of Enforcement at the SEC. He has been recognized as an AmLaw Daily Litigator of the Week, a National Law Journal Litigation Trailblazer, and a Law360 Securities Law MVP.
At the SEC, Martens led the Enforcement Division’s litigation program, managing cases nationwide and supervising a trial unit of approximately 40 attorneys in Washington DC, as well as coordinating the activity of litigators throughout the SEC’s 11 regional offices.
He personally developed and directed the Commission’s nationwide litigation response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Janus Capital, for which he received the SEC’s prestigious Chairman’s Award for Excellence.
Martens also prevailed as lead trial counsel for the SEC in the securities fraud trial against former Goldman Sachs trader Fabrice Tourre for his role in the structuring and marketing of a $1 billion collateralized debt obligation.
After a three-week trial in New York, the jury found the defendant liable on six of seven claims, including the most serious intentional fraud claims. The trial was covered from beginning to end by several major news outlets, and the verdict was the front-page story in The Wall Street Journal.
The Economist observed that, in his trial summation, “Martens transformed days of bland videos, testimony and documents into a sweeping story of deception that” made Mr. Tourre “appea[r] to noticeably age and sag.”
During the Bush administration, Martens was Chief of Staff and Counsel to then-Assistant Attorney General Michael Chertoff in the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division. Martens was also an Assistant US Attorney (AUSA) in the US Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina, eventually serving as Deputy Criminal Chief, where he supervised the white-collar/general crimes unit. With regard to Martens’ trial skills, Mr. Chertoff was quoted by The New York Times as stating that Martens is “really good at explaining things in plain English.”
Since joining WilmerHale, Martens has maintained an active trial practice in addition to representing clients before government regulators. In April 2014, he served as lead trial counsel for a major financial services company in a three-week federal jury trial in California in which he successfully defended the company.
In that consumer fraud class action, the plaintiffs sought damages of more than $180 million. Martens defeated all 22 of the plaintiffs’ claims (11 tried to the jury, and 11 tried to the bench). In June 2015, he was lead trial counsel for a leading financial institution in a case in federal district court in Massachusetts.
That case settled the week before trial. In September 2016, Martens was lead trial counsel for a financial services company in a jury trial in Los Angeles Superior Court that settled mid-trial.
Martens began his legal career serving as a law clerk to the Honorable David B. Sentelle of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and to the Honorable William H. Rehnquist of the US Supreme Court. Martens is also a Certified Public Accountant (Registered) in Illinois.
- Lead trial counsel in a federal (Central District of California) civil trial set for May 2019, defending a major financial services company against Unfair Competition Law class action claims.
- Co-lead trial counsel in a December 2018 state (Seattle, Washington) civil trial, defending a major telecommunications company against consumer fraud claims brought by a state attorney general.
- Lead trial counsel for major financial services firm for a federal (District of Massachusetts) civil jury trial set for July 2015. Case settled favorably a week before trial.
- Lead trial counsel in an April 2014 federal (Central District of California) civil jury trial, successfully defending a major financial services company against $180 million in consumer fraud and Unfair Competition Law class action claims.
- Defended a state government official in a state (Trenton, New Jersey) criminal jury trial on a corruption charge, resulting in a full acquittal.*
- Lead counsel for a Big Four auditing firm in a SEC investigation arising from a restatement by a publicly-traded manufacturing company.
- Lead counsel for a major financial institution in a SEC investigation concerning the marketing of structured notes.
- Lead counsel for a senior executive of a leading international beverage manufacturer in a SEC investigation concerning sales and accounting practices.
- JD, University of North Carolina School of Law, 1996
- BA, Accounting, Cedarville College, 1993
ADMISSIONS : New Jersey, New York, District of Columbia
- The Hon. William H. Rehnquist, US Supreme Court, 1997 – 1998
- The Hon. David B. Sentelle, US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, 1996 – 1997.
GOVERNMENT EXPERIENCE :
- Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Counsel
- Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Deputy Chief of Staff
- Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Chief of Staff
- Department of Justice, United States Attorneys’ Offices, Deputy Criminal Chief and Assistant US Attorney, Western District of North Carolina.
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