Hillsborough Circuit Judge Gregory Holder, a veteran, approved an agreement between prosecutors and a defendant’s attorney that spared the defendant a three-year mandatory sentence. Instead, the defendant, Clay Allred, received house arrest.
Judge Holder’s impartiality has been questioned. This is because Judge Holder has attempted to get Allred readmitted to the University of South Florida. Allred is a former Green Beret.
Judge Holder has engaged in the following activities pursuant to the article: written a letter to Judy Genshaft, USF President, pleaded before the school’s board of trustees, enlisted the support of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald, and sought help from U.S. Senator Bill Nelson.1 Genshaft and the trustees say it’s not for them to intercede in individual admission issues.
Former law professor, David Pimental, states that Judge Holder is “going out on a limb . . . It’s walking dangerously close to the line of an ethical violation . . .”
According to the article, Florida’s Code of Judicial Conduct is implicated. One provision of the Code prohibits a judge from “lend(ing) the prestige of judicial office” to advance the private interest of others. In Judge Holder’s defense, he consulted with the court’s general counsel and Chief Judge Ronald Ficarrotta, before getting involved in Allred’s case. Holder states the following: “Judge’s may call balls and strikes in court, but oftentimes situations present themselves when we should, in the interest of justice, take a stand.”