Judge Gives Drug Dealer Sound Advice At Trial, Swears Him In As Lawyer 16 Years Later

When Edward Martell stood trial in Judge Bruce Morrow’s Wayne County Circuit courtroom, he was losing hope and staring at a tough sentence.



The 27-year-old high school dropout could get a 20-year sentence which would ruin his life and rob him of a bright future.

But that wasn’t to be, because this month, Edward Martell returned to Morrow’s courtroom to be sworn in as a member of the Michigan State Bar.

The pardon

In 2005, Martell was out on bail when he was arrested in a drug sting in Dearborn Heights, Michigan. He pleaded guilty to selling and manufacturing crack cocaine which could put him for 20 years in prison.

But instead of that, Judge Morrow gave him 3 years of probation and a challenge to return to court next time with an achievement, such as becoming a corporate executive.

“Any other judge would have flushed me,” Martell said. “He said, ‘I challenge you to be a CEO of a Fortune 500 company instead of being out here selling drugs,” Martell recalled. “And I love a challenge.”

Today, Martell has earned a full scholarship to college and another to law school.

He passed the exams, and last week was sworn in as a member of the Michigan Bar, in the same courtroom of the judge who gave him a second chance at life and also administered the oath to him.


“That was better than walking your daughter down the aisle,” Morrow said. Martell now works at Perkins Law Group in downtown Detroit, a general practice law firm that specializes in criminal law. He hopes to inspire many future clients in situations like his own.

Morrow credits God for the way Martell’s life has changed. He says that he believes most failures happen because people who need help never get it.

“Everybody needs love,” Morrow added. “It’s a crazy cliché, but some defendants, that’s what they need, too. 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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