Michigan judge “converts” drug dealer to law

The first time Edward Martell stood up to hear his sentence, in 2005, he already knew that, by Michigan state guidelines, he would face one to 20 years in prison for making and selling crack rocks. already anticipating a sentence closer to 20 years, because of his criminal record.

Ed Martell is sworn in to become a lawyer before Judge Bruce Morrow
Playback/FOX 2 Detroit/YouTube

But instead, Judge Bruce Morrow decided to give the defendant a second chance. He announced the three-year probationary suspension, with a challenge: the defendant should take the right path and return to court, in time, to tell him how he used his intelligence and skills to achieve professional achievement, how to become a top executive of a large company.

Martell never became an executive. But last week, he was back face-to-face with Judge Morrow. this time, to take the oath required by law graduates to become lawyers, after passing the Bar Exam and an ABA (American Bar Association) assessment of aptitude and character.

It took 16 years from one event to another. During this time, the judge maintained sporadic contacts with Martell to encourage him to overcome the difficult circumstances of his life and reach his goal. Martell was the son of a single mother, who gave him a strict and ethical education, but he went down the paths of drug trafficking, still in his teens, influenced by his street friends.

Created a “reputable” criminal background sheet. When he got student funding to enroll in the “college” (the college of basic education in the US to enter a university), counselors laughed to hear that he wanted to be a lawyer. They said he was a criminal with a dream. He should take a professional training course, such as an air conditioning and water heater technician.

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Inspired by Judge Morrow, however, he insisted on his purpose of studying law and the counselors placed him in classes that were prerequisites for entering law school. On his way, he found more people who wanted to help with his student education, as well as in law and in the ABA branch. And also in his fight against drugs.

He passed the “college” exams and enrolled in the University of Detroit Mercy, the only one that was willing to help him get student funding, through the Jesuit Founders’ Scholarships organization. By the way (for those who don’t know the word), “mercy” means mercy, mercy, compassion, mercy, forgiveness. At “Mercy”, he graduated in law, political science and Spanish.

Before facing the Order’s counselors, he worked as an intern and researcher at the District of Columbia Attorney’s Office and at the law firm, the Perkins Law Group. On the day of the aptitude and character assessment, two lawyers from the bench and Judge Bruce Morrow appeared at the bar’s branch to support him.

Well-advised, Martell did not try to “roll over” the advisers. He told his story as a drug dealer and user, talked about the course he took to help him change his life and declared: “I am the same person, but I don’t think like I used to anymore. I evolved.”

The advisers considered his sincerity to be an indicator of his current aptitude to practice law. More important than your past. They approved the candidate in just 15 minutes.

Martell was employed by the Perkins Law Group, where he will act as a criminal lawyer with the desire to use what he learned from Judge Morrow in favor of his clients, helping them to change the course of their lives. And he will also be able to dedicate himself to the area of ​​Electoral Law, an interest he acquired in the political science course.

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This wasn’t the only case where Judge Bruce Morrow turned the lives of defendants he tried to turn. There were several, which gave him the nickname “second chance judge”. In an interview with the Fox 2 Detroit TV station, reported by the ABA Newspaper, the Washington Post and Deadline Detroit, he spoke about the defendants who changed their lives:

“They’re talented, they’re brilliant, they have skills and qualifications that if you’re not trying to improve people’s lives and connect with them, the only thing you see is the person and the crime you’ve been accused of.”

Watch here the video of Edward Martell’s oath, with an interview with him and Judge Bruce Morrow.