Sen. Bruce Holland, R-Greenwood, has no plans to resign his Senate seat and is willing to take the political risk that may come from appealing part of his sentencing related to a January high-speed chase through Perry County.
On Jan. 24, Perry County Sheriff’s Deputy Ray Byrd and the Ola Police Department stopped Holland after what Byrd said was a more than 20 mile chase with Holland reaching speeds of possibly 110 m.p.h.
Holland, during a Sept. 8 trial, was found guilty of three misdemeanor counts related to the chase. He was sentenced to pay $890 in fines and 400 hours of community service — although the community service has been reduced to 120 hours.
Bill Walters, Holland’s attorney and former Representative and Senator from Greenwood, plans to appeal the sentence. Holland said he does not object to the speeding and improper passing charges, but rejects the charge of fleeing.
“The fact of the matter is that I did not flee from Officer Byrd. … I never knew he was back there,” Holland said.
Holland argues that an audio recording of the chase indicates the final 16 miles of the chase were covered in 13 minutes.
“The average speed of that is 74 miles an hour. The math does not lie,” Holland said, adding that “there are a lot of things in this case that have not come out.”
Those things could come out in an appeal that may push the controversy into the 2012 primary cycle. Holland says he isn’t concerned about that possibility.
“It very well could be,” Holland said of the appeal process happening close to the primary election in May. “If it does or if it doesn’t, it really doesn’t matter because any elected official should be able to stand up for what it is right.”
But not all elected officials think Holland is making the right choice. Sen. Ruth Whitaker, R-Cedarville, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that Holland is an embarrassment.
“That is very upsetting to me as minority leader and as chairman of rules of the Senate. I am embarrassed for the Senate and his apparent disregard for the law,” she said, adding that Holland should consider resigning.
The D-G story also quoted Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley as saying Holland displayed a “cavalier attitude.” Jegley also said if Holland appeals he’ll face a jury trial of his peers who may have a harsh view of Holland’s statements and actions.
But Holland does not plan to resign. Instead, he’s prepping for a re-election announcement.
“I definitely will be running,” Holland said.
Michael Tilley with our content partner, The City Wire, is the author of this report. He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.