Miami-Dade Public Defender Carlos Martinez, a Miami Law alumnus, was honored with the CEPS Lawyers in Leadership Award by Miami Law's Center for Ethics and Public Service. The award recognizes leading members of the Florida bar and bench who are distinguished by their dedication to public citizenship and leadership.
"Carlos Martinez's career reflects an outstanding dedication to the pursuit of justice and service to our community," said Professor Anthony V. Alfieri, Director of the Center for Ethics and Public Service. "His integrity, passion and compelling life story will surely inspire our law students. It is our distinct pleasure to honor him with the Lawyer's in Leadership Award."
Martinez, who graduated from Miami Law in 1990, 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 in 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's Zero Tolerance Task Force.
The award was presented to Martinez at a luncheon in the faculty meeting room at Miami Law. Students Courtney Daniels and Frank Sardinha III moderated the event.
"For many years, Carlos has spearheaded local, state, and national efforts to protect the rights of the indigent in the criminal justice system – especially within the juvenile justice system – often in cooperation with the law school's clinics," Professor Alfieri said. "His path-breaking efforts have improved the quality of the Miami-Dade County public defender system and safeguarded the interests of adolescent offenders and their families. In addition to his years of important advocacy and law reform, Carlos has mentored and inspired hundreds of young lawyers and law students throughout South Florida."
Previous recipients of the Lawyers in Leadership Award include University of Miami President Emeritus Edward T. Foote II, the Hon. Henry Latimer, Joseph P. Klock, Ellen Catsman Freidin, Richard C. Milstein, the Hon. Joan A. Lenard, Carlos M. de la Cruz, H.T. Smith, Jeannette F. Hausler, M. Minnette Massey, Edna Shalala, the Honorable Peter R. Palermo, Cheryl Little, Kathleen Williams, Marcia K. Cypen and Joseph Centorino.