National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy


Cheryl A. Koch-Martinez, J.D. 

Cheryl Koch-Martinez is Manager of the  Arizona Department of Health Services Office of Human Rights (OHR).  The OHR provides free assistance to individuals determined to have a Serious Mental Illness in the public mental health system throughout Arizona.  Offices are located in Flagstaff, Phoenix, and Tucson.  Previously she was a staff attorney with the Arizona Center for Disability Law, where she represented people with mental health issues and engaged in civil litigation to improve the delivery of mental health services throughout the state. She was also employed by the Gila River Indian Community as a prosecuting attorney. Her focus was on prosecuting crimes committed against children. Prior to that, she was a legal aid attorney assisting farm workers with employment-related legal issues. She is an avid cyclist and also enjoys hiking, Ultimate Frisbee, and soccer.


    PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

  • Active Member of the Arizona State Bar since October, 1998
  • Admitted to practice in U.S. District Court of Arizona & Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
     
  • September, 2005 – Present Manager, Office of Human Rights, Arizona Department of Health Services/Division of Behavioral Health, Phoenix, Arizona.  Responsible for management of advocacy office that advocates for individuals with a serious mental illness (SMI) statewide.  Develop internal processes as well as internal and external monthly reports.  Supervise, train and mentor staff of thirteen (13) to ensure delivery of strong advocacy. Present client’s position at informal appeal conferences, administrative appeal hearings and in grievance/investigation matters.  Address systemic issues affecting the population served, develop educational materials for individuals with a SMI and conduct community education and outreach.
     
  • March, 2004 – September, 2005:   Staff Attorney, Mental Health Team, Arizona Center for Disability Law, Phoenix, Arizona.  Responsible for providing representation to individuals with serious mental illness in matters involving administrative appeals, grievances, service planning, hospital discharge planning and human rights issues.  Assisted in abuse and neglect investigations.  Collaborated with mental health agencies to identify systemic issues affecting individuals with mental illness and advocated for appropriate change.  Acted as co-counsel in Arnold v. Sarn, a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of individuals with serious mental illness in Maricopa County.  Conducted community education and outreach.  Performed the majority of supervisory duties for the mental health team on an interim basis for a period of eight months (November, 2004 – June, 2005).
     
  • January, 2001 – March, 2004Prosecutor II, Gila River Indian Community Law Office, Sacaton, Arizona.  Responsible for representing the American Indian tribe in criminal prosecution of adults in tribal court, with primary caseload of physical and sexual abuse crimes against children.  Coordinated a multi-disciplinary team for prosecution of crimes against children, which included participation by federal prosecutors and investigators, mental health and pediatric professionals, victim advocates, tribal child protective services, and tribal law enforcement.  Also handled juvenile and status offender matters, child in need of care matters, and other civil matters in tribal court.
     
  • August, 1998-January, 2001:       Staff Attorney, Community Legal Services, Phoenix, Arizona.  Engaged in complex civil litigation involving primarily the Agricultural Worker Protection Act.  Also handled individual cases regarding public benefits, public housing, tax deficiencies, workers’ compensation, and other legal issues faced by the low-income population.  Co-authored a successful appeal to the Ninth Circuit regarding personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state farmer who hired a farm labor contractor to recruit farmworkers in Arizona.  In addition, regularly conducted outreach and community education and contributed to the writing of grant applications and reports.
     
  • May, 1997 to August, 1997Summer Law Clerk and January, 1998 to April, 1998: Part-time Law Clerk, Gila River Indian Community Law Office, Sacaton, Arizona.  Drafted motions and petitions regarding juvenile offender, status offender and child in need of care matters.  Researched and wrote memoranda on various issues, including tax, Indian Child Welfare Act and tribal water rights.
     
  • May, 1996 to July, 1996:  Summer Law Clerk, Colorado River Indian Tribes Legal Aid Department, Parker, Arizona.  Researched and wrote memoranda on various legal issues, including the distinction between civil and criminal legislation, the criminal status of DUI legislation,  due process in housing evictions, individual taxation, guardianships, etc.  Assisted the legal aid attorney in preparing civil cases and motions.
     
  • Fall Semester 1997 (part-time): Prosecutor – through ASU College of Law’s Prosecutor Clinic, City of Tempe Prosecutor’s Office, Tempe, Arizona.  Co-counseled a DUI jury trial and prosecuted several bench trials on minor criminal offenses.  Participated in preliminary hearings, arraignments and plea agreements. 

    EDUCATION

  • J.D., Cum Laude, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona; 1998.
  • B.A., With Distinction, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, Major in Criminal Justice, Area Certificate in Environmental Studies, Minor in German; 1995.

    COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES

  • Volunteer Lawyers Program, volunteer lawyer for Landlord-Tenant Clinic, 2006-present
  • Tempe Nazarene Church, volunteer, primarily for Caravan (children’s program) and Vacation Bible School, 2003-present

    CONFERENCE PRESENTATIONS

  • Arizona Fiduciaries Conference, Tucson, AZ, February 20, 2009: “Mental Health System: Where to Go for Help” – an overview of the public system in Arizona, with a focus on services for and rights of persons with a SMI.
  • 2007 Summer Institute, Sedona, AZ, July 20, 2007: “Know Your Rights: Legal Rights of Arizonans with Alcohol and Drug Problems” – an overview of anti-discrimination laws and rights of persons with alcohol or drug problems with respect to training and employment.  

    AWARDS/HONORS

  • Sydney Yates Scholar, Arizona State University and Gila River Indian Community (1997)
  • Honors, Legal Methods and Writing (1995)
  • Board of Regents Scholarship, Arizona State University College of Law (1995)
  • Phi Beta Kappa (1995)

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