U.Va. Law Professor Named to Homeland Security Legal Team

January 30, 2009

January 30, 2009 — University of Virginia law professor David A. Martin was named principal deputy general counsel of the Department of Homeland Security on Thursday by President Barack Obama's administration.

He will be working closely with a former student — Janet Napolitano, a 1983 U.Va. Law graduate and former governor of Arizona, who officially was confirmed Jan. 20 as Secretary of Homeland Security.

In his new role, Martin will be the second-highest-ranking lawyer at Homeland Security, which has 208,000 employees. The agency's legal team includes 1,700 attorneys.

"I am very pleased to be invited to serve on Secretary Napolitano's team and to have the chance to help the department address its remarkably broad responsibilities," Martin said.

Martin, who has received a two-year leave of absence from teaching, will take on a legal portfolio that covers the full range of issues the agency deals with, including transportation security, cargo screening, disaster response, immigration and port security.

He expects to be closely involved in advising the Homeland Security secretary on immigration issues. Martin previously served as general counsel of the Immigration and Naturalization Service from 1995 to 1998, and is a leading academic expert on immigration and refugee law.

Martin noted that Napolitano was a student in the very first class he taught at Virginia. "I was a rookie professor and she was a rookie law student," he said. "That small section was tolerant of my mistakes and I tried to return the favor. I have always felt especially close to the students in that class."

Martin had kept in touch with Napolitano over the years, and the two of them worked on projects together when he was Immigration and Naturalization Service general counsel and she was the U.S. attorney for Arizona.

The class of 1983 held its 25th reunion last May. Martin was invited to the class dinner and sat next to then-Gov. Napolitano. "We talked a bit about immigration policy and the political races, but I certainly had no idea I was dining with my future boss."

Martin was named to the Obama transition team in November, where he served on the review team examining the Department of Homeland Security.  

Martin is the Warner-Booker Distinguished Professor of International Law at the University, where he regularly teaches immigration law and a course in presidential powers. Before joining the Virginia faculty he was special assistant to the assistant secretary for human rights and humanitarian affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

This story originally appeared on the Law School Web site.