Former drug dealer now sworn in as attorney before same judge who challenged him to change his life

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Former drug dealer now sworn in as attorney before same judge who challenged him to change his life

For Ed Martell, the moment he was sworn in as a lawyer earlier this month wasn’t just the start of a new career. It’s been a year of relentless determination – and a journey that began in the same courtroom.

“I was sure it was a miracle. God sent this miracle in the form of a judge behind a bench of all places,” he said.

The Inkster man turns life from drug trafficking to lawyer

For Ed Martell, the moment he was sworn in as a lawyer earlier this month wasn’t just the start of a new career. It’s been a year of relentless determination – and a journey that began in the same courtroom.

16 years ago Martell was a 27 year old high school dropout in Inkster.

“I fell victim to my environment, I could say, and then it became a trend,” he said. “I started hanging out with the wrong crowd, getting hooked on the drug culture.”

After several violations of the law, Martell landed before Judge Bruce Morrow of Wayne County Circuit Court. Martell was sentenced to 1 to 20 years in prison for selling drugs.

Instead, he got three years probation and unexpected inspiration.

“He challenged me and said, Mr. Martell, I dare to be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company instead of selling drugs out here,” recalls Martell.

He accepted this challenge right away.

“I knew what I wanted to be, but if you’re from anywhere I come from, I didn’t grow up with lawyers,” he said.

He went back to school and started at Wayne County Community College for his staff. In the end, he received a full scholarship to the law school of the University of Detroit-Mercy.

Martell then shared his story with the State Bar of Michigan’s Character and Fitness Committee. They decided that his past did not have to dictate his future and did not block his attempt to become a lawyer despite his previous grappling with the law.

Ed Martell Bear hugs Judge Bruce Morrow after he is sworn in as a lawyer.

Ed Martell Bear hugs Judge Bruce Morrow after he is sworn in as a lawyer.

Now, at last, Martell has been sworn in by Morrow, who is now much more than a judge. He is Martell’s mentor.

“He’s like so many other people who come before us,” said Morrow. “They are talented, they are brilliant, they have skills and abilities that, if you didn’t want to improve people’s lives and connect with them, you would only see the person and the crime they are being charged with.” ”

Morrow says he looked after several others who came before him in the courtroom. The judge says it is his responsibility to love everyone.

“I tell them that you were sent to see me – this is not a coincidence, you are not in a place by accident, you are here for a reason,” he said.

Martell credits Morrow for finding this purpose and seeing something in it that he himself did not see. Now that Martell has started his new job as a lawyer for the Perkins Law Group in downtown Detroit, the 43-year-old looks forward to his bright future.

Judge Bruce Morrow and the man he inspired Ed Martell.

Judge Bruce Morrow and the man he inspired Ed Martell.

“It doesn’t matter what your past was, it doesn’t matter what your current situation is. I would say just shoot for the stars,” he said.

Martell also plans to give back to the community and serve as inspiration for the next generation.