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December 27, 1985
Homeless Law Grad Offered Job

by Dennis Hevesi
Suffolk County Executive Peter F. Cohalan offered yesterday to hire Gary Martin -- the Columbia law school graduate who spent seven months wandering homeless in New York City -- as a lawyer in the county's Family Court Bureau.

Cohalan said that Suffolk County Attorney Martin Bradley Ashare "came to me with the idea this morning. He read the story in your paper. I said, 'Marty, it's a great idea.'" Ashare said that, if needed, his office also would arrange temoporary housing for Martin.

Although Martin's situation "is symptomatic of the larger problem," Cohalan said, if those if us in government can extend a helping hand to someone who might need it, then we're doing the kind of act that government should be doing."

Martin, 28, had been referred to in the press as Gary Doe until his hometown newspaper, the Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-Inquirer, printed his real last name. He was earning $42,000 a year with a Miami law firm when he failed the Florida bar exam for a second time and broke up with his girlfriend last March. In May, Rachel Kemp, a Harvard College classmate of Martin's, spotted him rummaging for food in a garbage can on a Manhattan street.

Kemp organized a group of 14 Harvard and Columbia graduates to search the city streets for their friend. She also enlisted the assistance of an advocate for the homeless, George McDonald. On Thursday, McDonald spotted Martin in Grand Central Terminal and convinced him to accept help from The Bridge, a private nonprofit mental health rehabilitation service.

Reached at her home in Phenix City, Ala., across the state line from Columbus, Ga., Martin's mother, Ruth, said she was moved by the job offer. "It would be up to him, whether he wanted to take the job or not. He can make his own decisions."

She said she hadn't yet received a phone call from her son. "I haven't seen him since 1983. If I waited that long, I can wait a little longer. I want to tell him that I'm glad he's off the street. I want him to come home and visit with the family, that I love him and all the family loves him."

Martin graduated from the Columbia law school in 1982. In high school, he was named Alabama Youth of the Year. "The human waste, the tragedy of it struck me," Ashare said yesterday. "Also, I'm a Columbia graduate, and that attracted me."

Ahsare spoke with McDonald about the job offer. "I said that if he [Martin] is employable and was interested in a job, we have a position for him. Mr. McDonald said that Gary is apparently not yet, he used the phrase, 'in focus.'"

Ahsare said that his office has a special arrangement with the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court, "where we can use unadmitted lawyers in Family Court proceedings. It starts at $24,000. I spoke to a lawyer on my staff, and we even could arrange some temporary housing for him."

"Our coutry is built on second chances," Ashare said of the job offer. Told that Martin is 6-feet-4, Ashare said, "I could use a first baseman on my softball team. If he can play, the deal is made."

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