Judge Martin was born October 23, 1935 in Boston, Mass. He was the son of Boyce F. Martin, Sr., formerly Assistant Dean at the Harvard Business School, Dean of the Emory School of Business, and President of the Louisville Cement Company, and Helen Artt Martin.
He lived briefly in Wellesley Farms, Mass., and Atlanta, Ga., before moving to Louisville in 1942. He graduated from Eastern High School and received a Bachelor of Arts from Davidson College in 1957. His many extracurricular activities at Davidson included playing football and serving as president of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter, managing editor of the yearbook, president of the Philanthropic Literary Society, and captain in the ROTC. After graduation, he was a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army’s armor branch and later Captain in the Army Reserve.
He graduated from the University of Virginia Law School in 1963. He clerked for U.S. Circuit Judge Shackelford Miller before becoming Assistant U.S. Attorney and interim U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky. After working in private practice and teaching at the University of Louisville Law School for several years, he was appointed Jefferson Circuit Court judge in 1974 and won re-election to the Circuit Court later that year.
Following the passage of the Judicial Amendment to the Kentucky constitution, Judge Martin was appointed to the Kentucky Court of Appeals in 1976. He was elected first chief judge of the new Court of Appeals. Under his leadership, the court successfully cleared the backlog of cases left from the old court system and established an efficient, respected appellate court.
In 1979, President Carter appointed Judge Martin to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. He was chief judge of the court from 1996 to 2003. He also served on the executive committee and other committees of the Judicial Conference of the United States, the national policy-making body for the federal courts. He retired from the court in 2013.
Judge Martin was passionately devoted to the court and to providing justice for all who appeared before it. He wrote more than 1100 opinions characterized by clear and concise writing, adroit references to popular culture, and fundamental common sense. A careful judicial craftsman who “applied the law as instructed by the Supreme Court,” he was not afraid to criticize legal rules when they produced unjust results. He is best known for his forceful opinions pointing out the flaws in the administration of the death penalty and for his opinions upholding affirmative action and the Affordable Care Act.
Judge Martin delighted in hiring bright young law graduates as clerks and mentoring them. He never tired of visiting with them when he could and bragging about their successes.
He served on boards of the Bernheim Foundation, Blackacre Foundation, Davidson College, Hanover College, Louisville Zoo, Pemaquid Point Association, and local chapters of the American Cancer Society, Boy Scouts, and YMCA. He was a member of the Pendennis Club, the Louisville Country Club, the Siasconset Casino Association, the Long Cove Point Association, Wawenock Golf Club, and was a Paul Harris Fellow at the Rotary Club of Damariscotta-Newcastle, Me.
He married Mavin Hamilton (Mimi) Brown on July 8, 1961, and raised four children with her until her untimely death in 1997. He married Anne Brewer Ogden on January 6, 2000. They enjoyed a rich life together in Louisville and at their beloved house at Pemaquid Point, Maine.
Judge Martin is survived by his wife, Anne; his four children, Mavin H. Martin and her husband, Neil Mellen, Julie M. Hudson and her husband, Bryan, Boyce F. Martin III and his wife, Melea East, and Robert C.G. Martin II and his wife, Sarah, all of Louisville; eight extraordinary granddaughters; a sister, Barbara Martin Dudley and her husband, Lee, of Atlanta, Ga.; a brother, W. Grier Martin and his wife, Ann, of Louisville; his faithful helper, Esperanza Juarez; and more than 100 law clerks. His last months were enriched by Ezell Smith and his skilled team of caregivers.
Judge Martin’s body will be at Christ Church Cathedral, 421 South Second Street, for silent meditation on Friday, June 10, from 1-4 p.m. with visitation following at the Speed Art Museum from 4:30-7:30 p.m. On Saturday, June 11, a funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. at Christ Church Cathedral, with a private burial.
In lieu of flowers, please consider memorial gifts to the Legal Aid Society, Bernheim Forest, or the Filson Historical Society.
Published in The Courier-Journal from June 3 to June 5, 2016