In the spring of 1971 I traveled to Tallahassee as attorney for the Polk County delegation for the Legislative Session. At the time I was wide-eyed and intent on following in the footsteps of great granddad Dr. Snow, my Dad (Snow Martin), and great uncle Stephen P. Mallory, for whom a square is named in Key West. [emember_protected custom_msg=”Click here and register now to read the rest of the article!”]
As the session wore on, disillusionment pervaded my thoughts on the lack of intellectual curiosity about our laws or sincere interest about the rights of ordinary folks.
I hung out in the office of John Clark in the old Capitol building. John was a teacher, educator rep, and honest to the core. His cubicle office was used by E.C. Rowell, one of the most feared former Speakers of the House from Wildwood, for whom SR 471 is named — cigar smoking, concise words, no bull. La Guardia of New York would have shivered.
He gazed at me one day from his big leather chair. I was smoking one of his cigars. To this day I need to apologize. He said, “Son, go home. You don’t belong here. You’re a trial lawyer. You have a gift to help lots of folks. I knew your Grandma Susie, and I know your Dad. There is a star for you, for all of us, so follow it. Get your butt home.”
I’ve only talked about this to a few folks. E.C. knew that Sumter and Hardee County blood was in me. Now I’ve got to find the same courage to advise my own kids to follow their star, not the wrong course. Thanks, Mr. Speaker, I owe you.
column by MICHAEL MARTIN
BIO: Michael Martin of Martin Law Office in Lakeland specializes in agriculture and environmental legal representation. A native of Polk County, Mike attended college at Sewanee in Tennessee, before obtaining a doctorate in law from the University of Florida and has tried numerous cases nationwide since that time.