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LESSON: When battling entrenched adversaries, we must find a delicate balance between cynicism to protect ourselves and humility and optimism to give us the energy to keep going. As exhausting as it may be, we must keep our radar on high intensity to see around corners or otherwise we will be vulnerable to unseen attacks. As strong leaders, we can reestablish our vulnerability and kindness once the threat has passed.


The below lesson is an excerpt from my recently released Amazon #1 Best Seller, When Not If: A CEO's Guide to Overcoming Adversity, Forbes Books. 


After innumerable hours in the prison law library, I was able to reverse the trial court’s sentencing by the irascible Judge Robert Doumar. Unwilling to see that happen, AUSAs Brian Samuels and Katie Dougherty got to work on Indictment number two to ensure all their work in the first trial did not go to waste. In an adversarial justice system, the object is to prevail.


In the FCI Fort Dix law library, I had been carefully crafting my motions to demand the courts allow me to continue to represent myself, pro se, back in Norfolk. I had seen enough of the inner workings of the system to know my only shot was to handle my resentencing myself. Of course that sounds ridiculous to most readers, but I had convinced myself it was the only way I could have a chance of challenging my conviction.


Shackled in chains, I was transported back to Norfolk, Virginia, and was met immediately off the bus by the new court-appointed counsel, Lawrence “Larry” Woodward of Ruloff, Swain, Haddad, Morecock, Talbert & Woodward, P.C., Virginia Beach, Virginia.


James Broccoletti had previously resigned from my case after my mother paid him $25,000 from her Sears pension savings to craft my appeal. He failed to prepare any paperwork, and he refused to return the $25,000. This recovery remains on my life task list today.


Larry Woodward was holding a new indictment to hand to me as I stepped off the bus to ensure I was legally served. What service! He then took me into one of the courthouse meeting rooms and explained that I had a choice. I could continue to represent myself. But if I dropped my demands to proceed pro se and allowed him to be my representation for the resentencing and this strange new indictment, he would be able to get me a bond hearing today and I would likely be released for the next three to four months with Ashleigh in order for us to properly prepare for the subsequent proceedings.


After two years at violent FCI Fort Dix, I could be released to Ashleigh for up to four months instead of sitting in Western Tidewater Regional Jail? To also get her to buy in, Larry Woodward even asked Ashleigh if she could bring my clothes to the proceeding—she already had them in her trunk—that I could wear home that day. The desire to be with Ashleigh was so palpable I could no longer resist. I was sold! In remarkably swift orchestration, I was immediately brought before The Honorable US District Court Judge Raymond Jackson who recorded that I was dropping my pro se representation and accepting Larry Woodward as defendant’s court-appointed counsel.


I was then ushered before Magistrate Judge Robert J. Krask, who looking up from the bench, stated, “I see Mr. Martinovich’s sentence has been vacated, so as far as I’m concerned, he’s a free man!” In disbelief I quickly rose to my feet in victory and turned to share the moment with Ashleigh sitting directly behind me in the courtroom. But not so fast. AUSA Brian Samuels leapt from his chair waving a new indictment and pronounced, “Your Honor, there actually is a new indictment, and we are taking Mr. Martinovich upstairs for a bond hearing right now!”


Quickly, now, I was escorted to another courtroom. What incredible service! Most inmates wait months and years just to get in front of one judge. Today I had the honor of appearing before no fewer than three judges.


I now found myself before another Magistrate Judge. My lawyer explained the story and the judge seemed to be going with the outcome Woodward suggested would happen. Then AUSA Samuels served another "surprise." He displayed a large stack of motions I had submitted over the last two years in an attempt to free myself and explained how I had “no remorse and no regret,” that by virtue of advocating for myself I obviously did not respect the laws of the US criminal justice system, and that it would be against the public interest to grant me bond.


In a worthy theatrical performance, the judge appeared to be very surprised by these motions and became very concerned about the safety of the community if this violent hedge fund manager was released on bond to be with Ashleigh and able to work on his own defense. “Bond denied!” The whirlwind orchestration was over. I had given up the right to defend myself. I was now locked away in the horrific Western Tidewater Regional Jail for the next eight months awaiting resentencing with counsel I could not relieve, awaiting a new trial with counsel I could not fire, and angrier than I had ever been on this journey.


I had hardened myself to be cynical and cautious, and I had made it back to the point of, possibly, fixing this debacle, and yet again I was defeated! Leaders must find the correct balance between cynicism and optimism to navigate the dangerous world of a successful business owner.  Clearly, I failed.


Have a great week!  And Happy Easter – I hear resurrections are coming back into fashion!


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