A Black judge in Wayne County, Michigan gave a second chance to Edward Martell in 2005 when he was arrested for selling drugs. Now 16 years later Judge Bruce Morrow has sworn in Martell as a lawyer. When the pair first met, Marshall, 27, was repeat offender pleading guilty to manufacturing and selling crack cocaine. Judge Morrow could have sentenced him to 20 years in prison but he saw potential in him.
“I can imagine Ed — being a Brown man, coming from an economically depressed environment, having been chased by police and put in handcuffs — never thinking this is where the love could come from,” Morrow told The Washington Post.
Judge Morrow decided to give him 3 years of probation and challenged him to come back to court the next time as a CEO. “It was kind of in jest, but he understood I believed he could be anything he wanted to be,” Morrow said.
Last month Martell came back to the court as a lawyer.
Once he completed his probation, Martell decided to pursue being a lawyer. He earned a full scholarship to college and law school. The path wasn’t easy due to his criminal records as people tried to discourage him. His record almost affected his bar application process as well, however, he never gave up.
Martell hopes his story will inspire other people. “I think my testimony may provide some of these young men and women with some motivation,” he told Deadline Detroit. “You plant a seed, and hope it will grow.”
Judge Morrow, who believed in Martell credits God with how things turned out.
“It’s a crazy cliché, but some defendants, that’s what they need, too,” Morrow said. “If you believe like I believe, that there but for the grace of God go you and me… It took some intelligence to get in and out of the kind of trouble he got into. I told him, ‘You could be my son. Let’s see how far you can go.’ And man, he hasn’t finished yet.”
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