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Leon Holmes

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Leon Holmes
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Current Court Information:
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas
Title:   Judge
Position:   Seat #5
Appointed by:   George W. Bush
Active:   7/7/2004 - Present
Chief:   2005 - 7/22/2012
Preceded by:   Stephen Reasoner
Personal History
Born:   1951
Hometown:   Hazen, AR
Undergraduate:   Arkansas State U., B.A., 1973
Law School:   University of Arkansas, J.D., 1982
Grad. School:   Northern Illinois U., M.A., 1976; Duke U., Ph.D., 1979

James Leon Holmes is an Article III federal judge for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas. Holmes currently serves as the Chief Judge of the court. He was nominated by George W. Bush in 2003.

Early life and education

Born in Hazen, Arkansas, Holmes graduated from Arkansas State University with his bachelor's degree in 1973 and received his Master's degree from Northern Illinois University in 1976. Holmes earned a Ph.D from Duke University in 1979 and later obtained his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Arkansas Law School in 1982.[1]

Professional career

Holmes was a law clerk to Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Frank Holt from 1982 to 1983. Holmes was a private practice attorney in the State of Arkansas from 1983 to 1990 and again from 1992 to 2004. He served as an adjunct faculty member in the Political Science Department at the University of Arkansas in 1983 before becoming a tutor and professor at Thomas Aquinas College from 1990 to 1992. Holmes was a faculty member of the University of Arkansas School of Law in 2002.[1]

Judicial career

Eastern District of Arkansas

Holmes was nominated to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas by President George W. Bush on January 29, 2003, to a seat vacated by Stephen Reasoner. Holmes was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on July 6, 2004 and received commission on July 7, 2004. He began his term as chief judge in 2005.[1][2]

Notable cases

Lee County School District Racial Discrimination Case (2012)

     United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas (Sharon Sanders v. Lee County School Dist. No. 1, et al, 2:08-cv-00219-JLH)

Arkansas: On February 29, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit partially overturned a ruling of the Eastern District of Arkansas, finding the Lee County School District to be guilty of federal discrimination law. Sharon Sanders, a former school finance coordinator, took the district to court following her demotion and subsequent recommendation for dismissal on the basis of race discrimination. According to court records, Sanders and another administrator were demoted following an election where the school board became comprised of a majority of African American members.[3]

In the original suit, Sanders was awarded compensatory damages, lost wages, punitive damages, and attorney's fees by a jury. Upon appeal, a judge of the Eastern District of Arkansas revoked the lost wages and severely cut her award for attorney's fees. The ruling by the Eighth Circuit ordered new proceedings to determine fees for Sanders' attorney and punitive damages, but fundamentally agreed that she had been discriminated against on the basis of race.[3]

Jack Harold Jones case (2010)

     United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas (Jones v. Hobbs, 5:10CV00065 JLH)

On March 12, 2010, Judge Holmes ruled a stay of execution involving convicted murderer Jack Harold Jones, Jr. Jones who is scheduled to be executed on March 16, 2010 had his execution stayed after attorneys challenged the legality of execution under the newly passed Arkansas Methods of Execution Act. The judge found that the State of Arkansas requiring lethal injection for executing inmates could be inhumane and unconstitutional under the new law.[4]

Death row removal case (2009)

     United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas (Simpson v. Norris, 5:04CV00429 JLH)

On September 17, 2009, Judge Holmes ruled to commute the death sentence of Sedrice Maurice Simpson, after he spent eleven years on death row. Judge Holmes agreed with Simpson's attorneys that due to his low IQ of 59 that he cannot be executed under state law which prohibits execution of individuals with a IQ below 65. Under the judge's ruling, Simpson will serve two consecutive life sentences for murdering two grocery clerks in Dallas County.[5]

See also

External links


Federal judicial offices
Preceded by:
Stephen Reasoner
Eastern District of Arkansas
Seat #5
Succeeded by:

ArkansasArkansas Supreme CourtArkansas Court of AppealsArkansas Circuit CourtsArkansas District CourtsArkansas City CourtsUnited States District Court for the Eastern District of ArkansasUnited States District Court for the Western District of ArkansasUnited States bankruptcy court, Eastern and Western Districts of ArkansasUnited States Court of Appeals for the Eighth CircuitArkansas countiesArkansas judicial newsArkansas judicial electionsJudicial selection in ArkansasArkansasTemplate.jpg