Hillsborough judge reprimanded by FL Supreme Court

- The Florida Supreme Court is busy this week, reprimanding judges for ethics violations.

Tuesday, it was Seminole County Circuit Court Judge Jerri Collins, for scolding and jailing a domestic violence victim. Wednesday, it was Hillsborough Judge Gregory Holder's turn. In front of the justices, he stood silent and took his punishment.

"A judge should not allow family, social, political or other relationships to influence the judge's judicial conduct or judgment," Chief Justice Jorge Labarga explained to Holder and the court.

Labarga was referring to the case of defendant Clay Allred, the Marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and was caught on a store's surveillance video urinating at the check out counter, and later firing his weapon in the store parking lot. Allred, who suffered from PTSD, pleaded no contest in Veterans Court.

Judge Holder gave him one year of community control followed by probation, but later reduced Allred's sentence. Judge Holder said he hoped a reduced sentence would help Allred gain re-admission to USF to finish his degree.

"Whatever feelings you harbor for Mr. Allred, you went far beyond what judges are permitted under the code of judicial conduct," said Labarga.

After reducing his sentence, however, USF did not welcome Allred back with open arms. So Judge Holder wrote a letter to the president of USF on Allred's behalf, and then made a personal appeal to USF trustees.

When none of that worked, the justices said Holder called Mike Sinacore, the second in command at the State Attorneys Office, asking prosecutors to set aside his formal conviction.

The Florida Supreme Court said Holder blurred the lines between judge and advocate.

"The conduct you have exhibited cannot and will not be tolerated," Justice Labarga concluded.

Judge Holder apologized for his conduct and acknowledged he went too far.

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