The Coral Gables Latin Kiwanis Club plans to honor Miami-Dade Public Defender Carlos J. Martinez, who graduated from Miami Law in 1990, with the organization's highest award at its annual Freedom Awards Gala on May 19. Martinez will receive the Freedom Award for "public service, dedication and commitment to the neediest members of the community," according to Aquiles Solano, Director of the Kiwanis Club of Coral Gables.
"I am grateful to the Coral Gables Latin Kiwanis Club for this award," Martinez said. "This honor is not mine alone. It belongs to the assistant public defenders and staff who fight every day on behalf of the indigent and safeguard our constitutional rights. This award recognizes their hard work."
Past recipients of the Freedom Award include author and journalist Carlos Alberto Montaner; former Florida International University President Modesto Maidique; the late Auxiliary Bishop Agustin Roman, and former Public Defender Bennett H. Brummer.
Martinez is the only elected Hispanic public defender in the United States. He has instituted numerous programs to help troubled youth get onto the right track. Martinez has been active in addressing the crisis of minority children going from school to prison, in protecting the confidentiality of juvenile records and ending the indiscriminate shackling of detained children in juvenile courtrooms.
He has served with numerous civic groups and local, state and national organizations and committees, such as the National Institute of Corrections' National Advisory Committee on Evidence Based Decision-Making for Local Criminal Justice Systems; the Florida Blueprint Commission on Juvenile Justice and the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Zero Tolerance Task Force.
Georgina Angones, Assistant Dean for Alumni Relations and Development at Miami Law, sent Martinez a message congratulating him "on yet another honor."
"We are so very proud of all of your many accomplishments and in particular your dedication to public service," she wrote. "The Dean and members of the Law Alumni Association join me in congratulating you as the recipient of the Kiwanis of Coral Gables' Freedom Award."