Retiring Hillsborough County judge looks back after 26 years on the bench

Those who know Hillsborough County Judge Gregory Holder will tell you he is a fair and fierce jurist who always upheld the rule of law and hands down justice on a daily basis.

"I would be fair, I would be decisive, " said Holder.

Looking back at his 26-year career on the bench, Judge Holder made his mark and made it early, like when he jumped into action in 1995 after an inmate tried to escape from the courthouse. Holder caught him and made the papers.

"We chased him down; Perceival Ferris was his name," recalled Holder. 

Holder also made headlines for calling the cops on a lawyer in his courtroom who was suspected of being a drug dealer.

"He was handcuffed, searched, was told of the charges pending against him."

And then there were the high-profile cases.

"I presided over cases involving horrific events to children, abuse, abandonment, neglect, murder. Terrible things that stay with you throughout your life," said Holder.

During the trial of Richard McTear, who was accused of killing a baby, emotions ran high but Holder kept order in his courtroom. 

Judge Holder himself also fought accusations of plagiarism and testified the documents in question were planted by another judge in retaliation for revealing alleged misconduct by fellow judges. 

And sometimes Holder's passions got him in some hot water, like his support for military veteran Clay Allred during a criminal matter. He was reprimanded by the Florida Supreme Court for advocating from the bench.

Holder says he has no regrets.

"We wear these robes, but we don’t have a Superman on our chest or Superwoman, we’re human beings," Holder explained. 

As Holder gets ready to hang up his robe, he reminds us of the responsibility the robe carries with it; something he says he never took for granted.

"Thank you for the opportunity to serve. I hope I made you proud," he added.