Miami Dade Public Defender Carlos J. Martinez

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Carlos J. Martinez, a native of Cuba, has dedicated his professional life to public service, using his legal talents in service of the poor. Arriving to Miami from Cuba on a 1969 Freedom Flight with his mother, father, two siblings and aunt, he learned the meaning of hard work and determination at an early age. As a youngster, Carlos often helped his dad, Celedonio, mop floors and clean the Little Havana church where his father worked as a maintenance man and where his mother, Yara, was the church’s receptionist. In 1990, Carlos received his J.D. from the University of Miami. Carlos has a long list of outstanding honors and achievements. In February, 2009, Carlos received the FIU Distinguished Alumni Torch Award for the College of Law. In April, 2009, Carlos was inducted into the Miami-Dade College Alumni Hall of Fame. In 2006, the Florida Public Defender Association (FPDA) awarded Carlos the Association’s prestigious Craig Stewart Barnard Award for Outstanding Service. Carlos also served two years as Vice President of the FPDA . Carlos is a member of Iron Arrow, the highest honor bestowed by the University of Miami. In addition, Carlos co-authored “The Best Defense is No Offense: Preventing Crime Through Effective Public Defense,” published in the New York University, Review of Law and Social Change. He was elected public defender without opposition in August, 2008. Carlos is the first Cuban-American Public Defender and the only elected Hispanic Public Defender in the U.S. As Public Defender, Carlos manages an office of approximately 360 employees, handling approximately 100,000 cases each year.

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