A Tribute to Brian Honan

By Ralph C. Martin, II, Former Suffolk County District Attorney

ralph-martin1I can’t recall when, exactly, I first met Brian. When I met with my predecessor, Newman Flanagan, in the transition from his administration to mine, Newman told me what an energetic person and terrific young lawyer Brian was. I think I met Brian when I went to visit the Roxbury District Court early-on in 1992. I remember having two immediate impressions: Brian was beyond energetic, he was a ebullient; he also had a very, shall we say, distinctive hairdo.

During the course of Brian’s tenure in the office, he handled many cases, particularly drug, gun and gang-violence cases. He carried a very substantial caseload. He had the rare quality that I would define as exceptional equilibrium. By that I mean that no matter how busy he was, he never seemed to lose his good cheer, accessibility to people who needed his help, or his ability to have fun. The seriousness of his cases never made his work or personality ponderous. He was a magnet for other members of the DA’s office who sought him out for his guidance, wisdom and because he was, in very plain terms, great fun to be around.

ralph-martin2When Brian told me that he was thinking about running for City Council, I encouraged him to do it. In truth, I thought he would be unbeatable and he was. He was a great campaigner. The same good cheer, comfort with people from all walks of life, street smarts and innate intelligence served him well as a campaigner and a City Councilor. Brian approached his responsibilities as a City Councilor the same way he approached his job in the District Attorney’s office: he took issues and cases seriously without taking himself too seriously at all.

Just as Brian was unbeatable in his City Council race, I believe he would have been unbeatable in the race for the District Attorney’s Office, despite substantial competition for that seat. What beat Brian had nothing to do with his capabilities and enthusiasm for the District Attorney’s Office, as we all sadly know. All of the collective efforts to remember Brian since his passing are a reflection of how much he touched people, directly and vicariously. At his funeral service, I was speaking with a prominent Bostonian who remarked that he had been to the funerals of many significant people, and Brian’s funeral resembled the services of many a high public official or head of state, There were so many people from so many walks of life who were there to remember him and celebrate the gift of his presence among us.

ralph-martin3It is rare to meet someone so young who had an impact on so many people in so many different neighborhoods from so many different walks of life. Brian stood out wherever he traveled: in the courtroom, in a pub, on a basketball court, or any of the multitude of places that he traveled. This website is a touchstone for the tens of thousands of people who knew Brian directly or felt they knew him because of his magnanimous spirit. I am honored to have the privilege of sharing my memories with all of you.

Ralph C. Martin, II