Many people who did business at Wareham Fourth District Court over the years – whether they be a plaintiff, defendant, lawyer, staff or otherwise – likely encountered longtime Chief Justice Baron H. Martin.

He was tough but fair, and often made the lives of those who came before him or spent time around him better for the experience.

Martin passed away on November 16 at the age of 97 after an illness.

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According to his obituary, Judge Martin was born in Boston and lived there until moving to Wareham in 1972. He later lived at the Bay Club in Mattapoisett.

As a young man, Martin worked as a baggage handler at South Station. He later worked as a clerk for the MBTA while putting himself through Suffolk University Law School, and later became the General Counsel for the “T” and years after was appointed to its Board of Directors.

Prior to that, while an undergrad student at Boston University in 1952, Martin played a pivotal role in shaping the future of American society when he introduced his friend and fraternity brother Martin Luther King, Jr. to Coretta Scott, the woman who would become his wife and be by his side when he became the leader of the civil rights movement.

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Martin also was involved in another key moment in American history. He worked on Robert F. Kennedy’s 1968 presidential campaign, and was with RFK at the Ambassador Hotel on June 5, 1968, when Kennedy was shot.

He told the Standard-Times in a 1996 interview that he was standing just six feet next to RFK when he was killed.

“He often quoted Robert F. Kennedy as saying that those of us who have something have an obligation to help others,” Martin’s obituary stated. “He lived by this motto until the day he died.”

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Martin was appointed to the Wareham District Court in 1974 and retired as its Chief Justice in 1996 when he reached the mandatory retirement age of 70 – something he did begrudgingly, and still found a way to make a difference even after retiring.

“There are countless stories of people that he helped when their lives were falling apart and they were standing before him in the court. He would help them see their value and a better way but they had to put in the work,” his obituary stated. “Giving back is what Judge Martin did, be it law students, the kid next door or a caregiver.”

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