Club members were surprised to learn that Martin doesn't just work as a lawyer — as an actor, he's played one too, and is currently performing as Atticus Finch in a performance of “To Kill A Mockingbird.” Martin led off his presentation by performing his final scene from the play, in which Finch gives an impassioned defense of his client, as a way to illuminate his own feelings about the judicial system.
“It might not be a perfect system, but it's the best system that's ever been devised,” he said.
Afterward, Martin explained the Sexually Violent Predators Unit, a little-known program formed in 1996. Its work involves taking a look at the “worst of the worst” violent sexual offenders already convicted and incarcerated to see if they have a mental illness and a likelihood of re-offending.
Of the 6,000 cases referred to the unit each year, about 2% make it to Martin's office, he said. Of that 2%, roughly one-half to two-thirds are tried and committed to a state mental institution. Around 600 offenders have been committed since 1996.
After Martin's presentation, Kiwanis Club member Clyde Hemphill said he learned something new at the meeting.
“It was thought-provoking,” he said.
Martin's opening performance may have drawn the most interest, however.
“Well, you can tell he's an actor,” Hemphill said. “I thought I was sitting in a jury box.”