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Public Statements

Executive Session

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. CHAMBLISS. I rise today to speak on behalf of a good friend, a very fine jurist, Judge Beverly Martin, who has been nominated by President Obama to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

I have had the good fortune of knowing Judge Martin, who is a native of Macon, GA, for many years and could think of no one with more integrity, professional competence, and appropriate judicial bearing to sit on the Nation's second highest bench.

Judge Martin is a fourth-generation lawyer. Her great-grandfather, grandfather, and her father were all lawyers in Macon, GA. They started the law firm of Martin & Snow in Macon, which is where Judge Martin also began the practice of law after graduating from the University of Georgia School of Law in 1981.

I talked to my good friend Cubbege Snow, Jr., who was one of the senior partners at the firm at that point in time. I said: Cubbege, tell me about Beverly. What did you do with her when she came fresh out of law school to be the fourth generation Martin in that law firm?

He said: Saxby, she started just like everybody else; we put her collecting accounts, which is the one thing lawyers have to do when they start out is that sort of menial type work.

I remember one day walking by her office and she is obviously on the phone with somebody trying to collect an open account, and she finally screamed at whoever it was on the other end and said, ``If you do not pay this bill, I am going to lose my job.''

So Beverly Martin started at the bottom of the ladder in the practice of law. She has worked herself up to the point now of being one of the finest district court judges we have in our State.

My good friend Jerry Harrell, who is also a member of that firm, says the thing he remembered best about now Judge Martin when she was practicing law is that she is very bright, but she approached everything from a true commonsense standpoint and that she was a very level-headed individual.

Judge Martin was drawn from private practice to Atlanta to go to work in the attorney general's office by then Attorney General Mike Bowers. She was there for a 10-year period. And in 1997 she was appointed U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia after serving for a couple of years as an assistant U.S. attorney.

During her tenure as U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia in Macon, Judge Martin was known as a tough prosecutor. She handled cases herself in a way that was not only very professional but in a very meaningful way.

At the same time, she was very compassionate outside of the courtroom. In fact, she started a program in Macon, Valdosta, Columbus, and Athens that is called the Weed & Seed Program. It is now a nationwide program that is run through U.S. Attorney offices. Judge Martin was a strong proponent and received national recognition for the work she did with the Weed & Seed Program in our State. She also held day camps for inner-city kids during the summertime. She served on various boards, including the board of Macon State College and Majority Women of Achievement, which board she serves on with my wife Julianne.

Her lengthy tenure as a prosecutor has given her a uniquely informed perspective. When handling criminal cases, as many of my colleagues know, a prosecutor must be tough but fair in carrying out their responsibilities. This experience has served her well as she has served on the District Court. It makes her exceptionally well qualified to serve on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

While on the district court, Judge Martin was faced with several difficult criminal matters. In 2002, she refused to intervene and halt the scheduled execution of a man convicted of killing a Columbus, GA, police officer.

More recently, in 2008, she rejected arguments that Georgia's method of capital punishment was unconstitutional, determining that it more than conformed with the recent Supreme Court guidance on the issue.

In his choice of Judge Martin, the President not only picked a fine Georgian to sit on the nation's second highest bench, but he has also picked a topnotch legal mind.

More revealing about Judge Martin as a jurist than my remarks are the anonymous lawyer comments that have been written about her during her 9 years on the bench. Words such as ``smart,'' ``bright,'' ``respectful,'' and ``fair'' appear frequently. One lawyer wrote, ``Her legal ability is matched by her courtroom demeanor, which is the best around.''

Another said, ``She always calls it as she sees it. She has no leaning.''

Mike Bowers, attorney general and her mentor of 15 years, said she is the most evenhanded judge he has ever appeared before.

In fact, Mike, who is now in private practice, told me that he tried the very first jury trial case before Judge Martin. In Federal trials, the lawyers are all required to stand at a lecturn where they ask their questions to the witnesses, and it is not appropriate to get too close to the jury. But all of us used to try to do that because you could sometimes be more effective. He said: One day I was trying this case before Judge Martin, the very first case she had tried, and I obviously got a little too close to the jury. Being the evenhanded judge she is, she looked at her 15-year mentor and she said, very professionally: Mr. Bowers, please back away a respectful distance from the jury. He said: I remember it very well.

That is the evenhandedness with which Judge Martin has always conducted herself on the bench. I have no doubt Judge Martin will serve the people of Georgia, Alabama, and Florida very well on the Eleventh Circuit. She is, to put it plainly, a fair and wise judge. The President couldn't have chosen a more qualified individual for the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. I am proud to lend my support to her and look forward to her swift confirmation.

I yield the floor.


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