Monday, February 24, 2020

D.A.'s Newest Senior Adviser Is A Disbarred Lawyer

Holston [middle] with Asa Khalif of Black Lives Matter at Krasner's victory party
By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

Two weeks ago, the Philadelphia District Attorney's office hired Gregory Holston at $140,000 a year to serve as a senior advisor on advocacy and policy.

Holston, a pastor in the United Methodist Church, was described by Jane Roh of the D.A.'s office in a press release as a "civil rights and faith leader who was the former executive director of POWER Philadelphia, an interfaith justice advocacy organization." In announcing the appointment, Roh wrote that Holston "will work to strengthen relationships, build trust, and improve cooperation among Philadelphia communities in partnership with civic, government, and law enforcement officials."

According to Roh, internally Holston "will advise DAO employees on ways to integrate social justice best practices and community-based policies and procedures into their work." And externally, Holston will "work to advance the mission of the DAO to make the criminal justice system more accessible and accountable, in order to build trust in law enforcement the DAO, and the court system," Roh wrote.

In her press release about the appointment of Holston, Roh mentioned his law degree from Georgetown University, but she left something out of Holston's resume, namely his disbarment as a lawyer in 1993 by the state Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. And what was Holston disbarred for? According to court records, Holston forged a judge's signature on a phony divorce decree, and when questioned about it by the judge, he lied.

Roh, an alleged spokesperson for the D.A.'s office whose usual policy with this reporter is stonewalling, did not respond to a request for comment. Holston, who was a big time supporter of Krasner during his race for D.A., also could not be reached.

In her press release about the appointment of Holston, Roh quoted her boss, District Attorney Larry Krasner as saying, "I'm glad Gregory Holston is with us. I'm excited about his internal and external advocacy. All of us in the Philadelphia District Attorney's office will benefit from his passion and love for his fellow Philadelphians."

In the press release, Holston is quoted as saying, "Our mission is to both acknowledge and address racial and economic injustice in Philadelphia; to ensure all Philadelphians have a reasonable expectation of safety regardless of income or zip code; and to transform our criminal justice system into an entity that supports all people, regardless of their social status, skin color, nation of origin, or who they love."

Sounds like he's heading up a social welfare agency rather than the office that's supposed to be putting dangerous criminals in jail. But Holston will fit in perfectly in the office of the public defender with power, formerly known as the Philadelphia District Attorney's office.

As a pastor, Holston is in the business of redemption. And he's lived a lifetime since his problems that got him disbarred. So it would be unfair to judge a guy by his worst moment.

But the record of what happened back then is pretty ugly.

According to an opinion issued by the state Supreme Court, in the case of Office of Disciplinary Counsel v. Gregory Holston, the former lawyer was hired in 1987 to represent Richard Wofford of Philadelphia in a divorce. But Holston's attempts to serve Wofford's wife with the divorce complaint through the Philadelphia sheriff's office resulted in a return of "not found."

According to the state Supreme Court opinion, Holston "did nothing else to serve the defendant or to locate her whereabouts." Some seven months later, when Wofford asked Holston how the case was coming along, Holston "assured him that things were proceeding and in early August, 1988, [Holston] informed his client that a divorce decree had been granted."

Holston mailed Wofford a divorce decree dated July 16, 1988 and signed by Common Pleas Court Judge Alex Bonavitacola, along with a certificate purporting to verify the accuracy of the decree.

But on Nov. 14, 1988, attorney Holston filed a motion to amend the complaint, and a petition for special service of the complaint through the U.S. Mail. That's when he got into trouble. In a hearing two weeks later, the judge looked at the complaint and asked Holston "to tell him where he had gotten it."

Apparently the judge had noticed that the signature on the divorce decree wasn't his.

In response to this "direct question," according to the state Supreme Court opinion, Holston "lied and said that he did not know how he got the document and who prepared the order and certification."

In a subsequent meeting with an ethics lawyer, Samuel Stretton, Stretton advised Holston "that his conduct in this matter was improper and that he should reveal to Judge Bonavitacola that he was responsible for forging the name of the judge to the decree that he sent to Mr. Wofford."

Holston "did so and, throughout these proceedings, he has admitted his wrongful conduct and shown his remorse for having forged a court order and lying to a court of law," the state Supreme Court opinion states.

Rather than be disbarred, Holston asked the state Supreme Court to publicly censure him. But he was disbarred because his conduct "demonstrates a callous disregard for the very integrity of the judicial process and calls for the most severe sanction," the state Supreme Court wrote.

While Holston argued that his wife was pregnant at the time and that he was under "extreme pressure in his personal life," the state Supreme Court ruled that Holston had "acted dishonestly and demonstrated his unfitness to continue practicing law."

"Truth," the state Supreme Court concluded, "is the cornerstone of the judicial system" and Holston's sins of "lying to the court and dishonestly forging a court order are the antithesis of these requirements."

3 comments:

  1. If Holston had been a police officer instead, the DAO would bar him from testifying. Instead, because he supports the "mission" of the Defender's Office formerly known as the District Attorney's Office, he's given a job and hefty paycheck, based on Krasner's hiring history. Fanfuqingtastic.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Don't feel too bad. Los Angeles might jump into the burning dumpster with Philly. Krasner's left coast twin, George Gastone, is running for LA County DA against Lacey, an Afro American who actually puts criminals in jail. Gastone is the former San Francisco DA who turned the city into a cesspool (literally) by allowing poor homeless drunks to run around naked and defecate in the streets.
    He is endorsed by the CA Democratic Party, the LA Times (which has turned into a liberal tabloid after the Chicago based Tribune took it over), and of course Kamilla Harris (Who called the Knights of Columbus a radical organization). He is opposed by every law enforcement agency in the state.
    The interesting thing is that MILLIONS of $$$$ are coming into LA County from all over the USA on both sides, and I mean millions. You cannot watch an LA TV station for one hour without being bombarded by (not cheap) ads about the DA race. 2 or 3 to 1 vs Bloomberg, Biden, and Sanders combined. Go figure!

    ReplyDelete
  3. What happened to Krasner's last advisor that made the racist fried chicken comment? Quietly let go.....That administration has been a joke since day 1!!!

    ReplyDelete

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