Bruce Bolin

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Bruce Martin Bolin​

Louisiana State Representative for District 10 (Webster Parish)​
In office
1979 ​ – 1990​
Preceded by R. Harmon Drew, Sr.
Succeeded by Fulton Eugene Eason​

Division E Judge, 26th Judicial District Court of Louisiana​
In office
January 1, 1991​ – January 31, 2012​
Preceded by New judgeship​
Succeeded by Joe Bleich (interim)

Mike Nerren (permanent)​


Born September 28, 1950​
Springhill, Webster Parish, Louisiana, USA
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) Michelle D. Bolin (third wife, born May 5, 1962)​
Children Brooke Courtney Pierce

Page Gammon Bolin
​ Hope Bolin ​
Parents:
Jude James Edwin Bolin, Sr.
​ Mary Eloise Martin Bolin​

Alma mater Minden (Louisiana) High School

Louisiana State University
​ LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center​

Occupation Attorney
Religion United Methodist
Notes:
  • Bolin and his father, James Edwin Bolin, Sr., each held the positions of state representative and judge of the 26th Judicial Court – thirty-eight years apart.​
  • Though Bolin's House seat switched to Republican after his resignation to become judge, the Democrats promptly regained the position in the general election of November 16, 1991, with the election of Everett Doerge, an educator from Minden.​

Bruce Martin Bolin (born September 28, 1950) is a retired judge of the Louisiana 26th Judicial District and a former state representative. Bolin held court from 1991 to 2012 in the Division E judgeship[1] based in Benton and Minden, the seats of government for Bossier and Webster parishes, respectively.​

Background

Bolin is one of four children of Judge James E. Bolin, Sr. (1914-2002), and the former Mary Eloise Martin (1913–2007). He was born in Springhill, where his parents were then residing. He graduated in 1968 from Minden (Louisiana) High School. He was a basketball manager and golfer in high school.[2] Bolin procured his undergraduate degree from Louisiana State University and his legal credentials from the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center, both in Baton Rouge.[3] His brother, James E. Bolin, Jr. (born 1941), is a practicing attorney in Shreveport. He also has two sisters, Beth Bolin Falk and Becky Bolin Maupin.[4]

Early in his career, Bolin practiced law and served on the indigent defender board in Minden.​

Political career

As state representative

On November 7, 1978, Bolin, a Democrat, ran in the special election for the District 10 seat in the Louisiana House vacated by R. Harmon Drew, Sr. A former Minden city judge, Drew was again elected to that post in the nonpartisan blanket primary held on September 16 and had therefore resigned his House seat. Bolin led the balloting over three opponents, including Achillea Gust "Ike" Kirkikis (1926–2004), a Greek-American businessman from Minden who also served for four terms on the Webster Parish Police Jury, the parish governing council, was a past president of the Minden Beautification Council, and owned until 1981 Economy Butane and Propane Company.[5] Also in the race were outgoing Minden Mayor J. E. "Pat" Patterson and forester William H. "Bill" Zachry, Jr. (born June 10, 1943), the most politically conservative of the four candidates. Bolin led the field, with 5,580 votes (47.2 percent) to Kirkikis's 2,789 (23.6 percent), Patterson's 2,687 (22.7 percent), and Zachry's 773 (6.5 percent). Patterson's son, Ricky Patterson (1951–1978), was shot to death on November 6, election-eve.[6]

In the runoff held on December 16, Bolin prevailed, 2,698 (59.5 percent) to Kirkikis' 1,833 (40.5 percent). He hence took office on January 1, 1979, for the fifteen months remaining in Drew's unexpired term.[7]

Bolin's father had held the same House seat from 1940 to 1944. Bolin served as representative for nearly a dozen years; he was unopposed for his last term in 1987. He resigned late in 1990, when he was elected to the state district judgeship. The senior Bolin had held that post too — from 1952 to 1960.[8]​ Bolin was elected to full House terms in 1979, 1983, and in 1987. In the 1983 campaign, U.S. Senator J. Bennett Johnston, Jr., then U.S. Representatives Thomas Jerald "Jerry" Huckaby and Buddy Roemer, then state House Speaker John Joseph Hainkel, Jr. (1938-2005), and then state Representative and later state Senator Robert Roy Adley headlined a testimonial dinner and fundraiser for Bolin held at the Minden Civic Center and attended by some one thousand supporters though he had no opponent that year.[9]He ran unopposed as well in 1987, when he won his third full term which he did not complete.

In the House, Bolin voted 55 percent from 1979 to 1984 with the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry. In 1984 alone, LABI ranked him 32 percent favorable. He opposed efforts by organized labor to repeal the state right to work law.[10]

In the spring of 1984, Bolin was one of twenty-eight representatives who voted against a 1 percentage point increase in the state sales tax, which was nevertheless pushed to passage by then Governor Edwin Edwards. Bolin said that while he admired Edwards' gubernatorial leadership and ability to get legislation enacted, "I just thought it was an improper time to drop this additional load on the taxpayers."[11]

In 1984, Bolin was appointed by state House Speaker John Alario, then a Democrat and later a Moderate Republican, to chair the Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice. Prior to that time, he had chaired the House Judiciary Committee.[12]

In 1988, Representative Bolin applauded Governor Buddy Roemer's early reform efforts: "the state can't be everything to everybody, and the new budget reflects that." Bolin also correctly predicted that Roemer would in time run for president, but that did not happen for another twenty-four years. Bolin said that Roemer "needs no political baggage" and that Louisiana "must be viewed as a progressive state" for Romer to accomplish the goal of becoming president.[13]

Running for district attorney

In September 1984, Bolin ran for the office of Bossier-Webster Parish District Attorney,[14] but he lost by 122 votes to the incumbent and fellow Democrat Henry Newton Brown, Jr., of Bossier City. The tally was 16,447 for Brown to 16,326 for Bolin.[15] Bolin carried forty-one of the forty-eight precincts in Webster Parish but only two in Bossier Parish.[16]

In that campaign, Bolin accused Brown of having dropped 230 charges against suspects, including some who were accused of murder, rape, narcotics violations, and driving while intoxicated.[17] Later during the decade CBS's 60 Minutes ran a story on Brown stressing the district attorney's aggressive prosecution of murder suspects.[18]

As 26th Judicial District Court judge

Bolin was elected judge of the 26th Judicial District court in 1990, when his runoff opponent, Randy Rowe of Bossier City, withdrew from the contest.[19] However, there was a delay in certification of Bolin as the winner of the election because of a challenge waged by advocates of single-member districts for judges, a practice which the United States Supreme Court has ruled is not required under the Voting Rights Act of 1965.[20]

After Bolin became a judge, his state House seat temporarily reverted to a Republican, Fulton Eugene Eason (1928-2007) of Springhill in northern Webster Parish, who filled the remaining months of Bolin's term. Eason was actually the first Republican ever even to seek the Webster Parish seat in the state House. Eason was promptly defeated in the general election held on November 16, 1991 by another Democrat, educator Everett Doerge of Minden.[21]​ The seat is now held by the Democrat-turned-Moderate Republican, Royce Wayne McMahen, the son of a former Democratic sheriff, Royce L. McMahen, both of Springhill.

As a long-serving district judge, Bolin on occasion acted as a judge pro tempore by special appointment of the Louisiana Supreme Court.​ ​ In the 2012 election to choose a successor to Judge Bolin, three Republicans, Whitley Robert "Whit" Graves, Mike Nerren, and John B. Slattery, Jr., the city judge in Springhill, filed for the post, but no Democrat entered the competition. In previous years, no Republicans would likely have filed for the judgeship. Party fortunes began slowly to reverse themselves in Louisiana early in the 21st century.[22] Nerren and Graves led the primary field. Graves then lost to Nerren in the second round of balloting on December 8, 2012, 6,412 votes (46.5 percent) to 7,390 (53.5 percent).[23]​ ​ Though he left the judgeship, Bolin was listed in 2014 on the 26th Judicial District website as the court "hearing officer." In 2020, former city Judge John C. Campbell is the hearing officer.[24]

References

  1. "Bolin swaps House seat for judge's robe," Minden Press-Herald, January 2, 1991, p. 1.
  2. Minden High School, 1968 yearbook.
  3. "Louisiana: Bolin, Bruce Martin, Who's Who in American Politics, 2003-2004, 19th ed., Vol. 1 (Alabama-Montana) (Marquis Who's Who: New Providence, New Jersey, 2003), p. 770.
  4. Obituary of Mary Eloise Martin Bolin, Minden Press-Herald, September 25, 2007.
  5. Minden Press-Herald, December 18, 1978, p. 1.
  6. Minden Press-Herald, November 7–8, 1978.
  7. Minden Press-Herald, December 17, 1978.
  8. In Memoriam: Retired Second Circuit Judge James E. Bolin. Louisiana Supreme Court. Retrieved on January 15, 2020.
  9. Minden Press-Herald, March 28, 1983, p. 1.
  10. "State voting record disappoints LABI," Minden Press-Herald,', October 17, 1984, pp. 1, 16.
  11. "Rep. Bolin weighed all the factors," Minden Press-Herald, March 30, 1984, p. 1.
  12. "Bolin heading unit on criminal justice," Minden Press-Herald, March 20, 1984, p. 1.
  13. "Bolin: Roemer's aspiration can only help state,'" Minden Press-Herald, May 17, 1988, p. 1.
  14. "Bolin is candidate for district attorney," Minden Press-Herald, July 12, 1984, p. 3.
  15. Minden Press-Herald, October 2, 1984, p. 1
  16. "Bolin not ready to concede," Minden Press-Herald, October 1, 1984, p. 1.
  17. Bolin advertisement, Minden Press-Herald, September 12, 1984, p. 1B.
  18. "Brown: 'People Should Pay for What They Do!,'" Minden Press-Herald, June 25, 1989, p. 1.
  19. "Bolin winner in 26th Judicial District Court race; Runoff opponent withdraws from race," Minden Press-Herald, October 17, 1990, p. 1.
  20. "Louisiana election headed for Supreme Court; Bolin's 26th Judicial District judgeship affected by challenge," Minden Press-Herald, October 19, 1990, p. 1.
  21. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns (Legislative), November 16, 1991.
  22. Bonnie Culverhouse, "Final candidate roster," Minden Press-Herald, August 20, 2012.
  23. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, December 8, 2012.
  24. "Judges". 26jdc.com. Retrieved on January 15, 2020; material on Judge Bolin no longer on-line.

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