The difference between finding justice and following the letter of the law sometimes requires a simple act of compassion. Where others might have seen an incorrigible criminal, a judge saw a promise, and following a hunch, acted on his intuition.
At first glance, Edward Martell, a 27-year-old high school dropout with an extensive arrest history, might not have seemed like a prime candidate for rehab, but when he faced a 20-year drug conviction, he instead After imposing the maximum sentence, Chief Justice Bruce Morrow granted Martell probation and a challenge.
Morrow told Martell that the next time he walked into the courtroom, he hoped he had made something of himself, something great.
“He said, ‘I challenge you to be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company instead of being here selling drugs,'” Martell said. Detroit Deadline. “And I love challenges.”
“It was kind of a joke,” Morrow recalled in an interview with The Washington Post, “But he understood that I believed he could be anything he wanted to be.”
Fast forward 16 years and Martell is back in front of Judge Morrow, only this time, he’s sworn in as a lawyer after passing the Michigan state bar. While the result is sweet, Martell’s path was neither easy nor assured.
Since there was a very real possibility that his previous criminal record would ruin his future plans, while he was completing his GED, Martell’s counselors discouraged him from pursuing a legal career. But he refused to give up.
After earning his associate’s degree, Martell went on to pursue scholarships for both his undergraduate studies and law school. He then worked in the office of the Federal Public Defender for the District of Columbia and was eventually hired by the Perkins Law Group as an investigator and writer.
When it came time to take the bar exam, Martell had many supporters in his corner, including Judge Morrow, with whom he had kept in touch over the years.
With the help of mentors from his law firm, Martell submitted a more than 1,200-page application detailing the steps he had taken to change his life.
“The main thing they are looking for is frankness. I let them know that I am sorry, that I am absolutely ashamed, ”Martell told WAPO. “I am the same person, but I no longer think that way. I have evolved. “
Its approval took only 15 minutes. The seeds of a dream he had planted had finally come true. Martell still has a job at the Perkins Group, only now, he will be a practicing attorney rather than an investigator, and all because one man was willing to take a chance and made a challenge that Martell couldn’t walk away from.
“It’s a crazy cliché, but some defendants, that’s what they need,” Morrow said. DD. “If you believe as I believe, that if it is not by the grace of God, you and I will go… It took some intelligence to get in and out of the kind of problem he got into. I said, ‘You could be my son. Let’s see how far you can go. ‘ And man, it’s not over yet. “
Which is the kind of sentencing recommendation that we could probably use a lot more these days.
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