State of Florida
Office of Attorney General Ashley Moody


CAUTION: The following is a slip opinion which may or may not reflect the exact contents of the opinion in its final published form. The original file provided by the court, when available, is attached. To obtain the original file, double-click the icon in the original file box below, then select detach or launch. It may then be viewed in WordPerfect with page numbering and footnotes as provided by the court.

AG number: 12002Style: Inquiry Concerning a Judge, re: Gregory P. Holder
Jurisdiction: Florida Supreme CourtDate issued: December 7, 2006
Original file, if available:12002.pdf


Payment of attorney’s fees in JQC cases
Citing the concept of judicial restraint, the Florida Supreme Court said it lacks the authority to award attorney’s fees in Judicial Qualifications Commission proceedings and therefore cannot authorize the payment of such fees to a circuit judge who was at the center of a scandal inside the Hillsborough County Courthouse.
Hillsborough Circuit Judge Gregory P. Holder sought attorney’s fees incurred in his defense of charges before the JQC, stemming from allegations that he plagiarized two papers he submitted while enrolled in the U.S. Air Force Air War College. Judge Holder denied the allegations and said they were lodged in an attempt to discredit him in his role as a whistleblower in the then-current courthouse scandal. Judge Holder prevailed in the JQC action and sought an award of attorney’s fees, but the Supreme Court concluded that there is no language in the Florida Constitution explicitly authorizing such payments in JQC cases.
“(I)n this case we recognize that the Florida Constitution does not grant this Court the authority to award attorney’s fees to a respondent in a JQC proceeding. Such an acknowledgment does not violate the principle that we should avoid constitutional questions when possible; rather, it acknowledges that before this Court can take action, the Florida Constitution must give us the power to do so. This principle recognizes that our authority is not boundless; it is circumscribed by the language of the Florida Constitution. Nothing can be more consistent with the concept of judicial restraint,” the court said.


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