Edward Martell was a 27-year-old high school dropout facing a 20-year sentence when he first appeared in Judge Bruce Morrow’s Wayne County Circuit courtroom.

He was sworn in as a member of the Michigan State Bar in Morrow’s courtroom earlier this month.

When Martell was arrested in a drug sting in Dearborn Heights, Michigan in 2005, he was free on bail.

Martell faced up to 20 years in jail after pleading guilty to selling and manufacturing crack cocaine.

Rather than throwing the book at Martell, Judge Morrow sentenced him to three years of probation and challenged him to return to court with a goal, such as becoming a corporate leader, the next time.

“Any other judge would have flushed me,” Martell told The Washington Post.

“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.”

Martell is no longer the CEO of a Fortune 500 corporation. He did, however, receive a full college scholarship and a law school scholarship. He passed the examinations and was sworn in as a member of the Michigan Bar last week in the courtroom of the judge who had saved him and who also administered the oath.

“That was better than walking your daughter down the aisle,” Morrow told Deadline Detroit.

Martell is currently employed with Perkins Law Group, a general practise law firm specialising in criminal law, in downtown Detroit. He thinks that his experience will aid him in assisting future clients in situations similar to his own.

Morrow, who attributes Martell’s success to God, feels that most failures occur because individuals who require assistance never receive 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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