Years after challenging drug dealer to change, judge swears him in as a lawyer

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Edward Martell faced a possible sentence of up to 20 years in prison when he stood before a Michigan judge nearly 16 years ago on charges of selling and manufacturing crack cocaine.

gavel with books Image from Shutterstock.

Instead, Judge Bruce Morrow of Wayne County, Michigan, sentenced Martell to three years of probation and challenged him to become a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, rather than a drug dealer.

On May 14, Morrow swore in Martell as a Michigan lawyer in Morrow’s Wayne County courtroom, report Deadline Detroit, Fox 2 Detroit and the Washington Post.

“I love a challenge,” Martell told Deadline Detroit.

Martell said his single mother raised him with high morals and ethics, but he fell in with the wrong crowd and began getting into trouble at about age 13. By the time that he was arrested in 2005 in a drug sting in Dearborn Heights, Michigan, he had a record that made him appear to be a career criminal.

Although Martell violated his probation, he managed to get back on track. He enrolled in community college in 2008 and then attended the University of Detroit Mercy on scholarships for his undergraduate and law school degrees.

Over the years, Martell and Morrow kept in touch. When Martell underwent the character and fitness review for the bar, Morrow was among his advisers. Martell submitted an application that was more than 1,200 pages long.

“The main thing they look for is candor. I let them know I am remorseful—that I’m downright embarrassed,” Martell told the Washington Post of his past. “I am the same person, but I don’t think like that anymore. I’ve evolved.”

It took only 15 minutes for the character and fitness board to approve Martell’s application. He will be practicing law at the Perkins Law Group in Detroit, where Martell had worked as a legal researcher.

According to Martell, his path toward change began with Morrow and the help of God.

“It took a miracle,” Martell told Fox 2 Detroit. “God sent that miracle in the form of a judge behind a bench of all places.”

Morrow told Fox 2 Detroit that Martell is like many other people who come before him.

“They are talented, they’re brilliant, they have abilities and skills that, if you were not looking to make people’s lives better and connect with them, you were only going to see the person and the offense that they’re charged with,” Morrow said.

Morrow said he tells defendants, “You were sent to me. This isn’t random, you’re not in a place by coincidence, you’re here for a purpose.”

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