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ENJOY HIS PRAGMATISM, BUT GET THICK SKIN COURT: San Mateo County Superior APPOINTED: To San Mateo County Municipal Court by Gov. George Deukmejian on Oct. 4, 1989; elevated through court consolidation on June 12, 1998 DATE OF BIRTH: April 16, 1944 LAW SCHOOL: Santa Clara University School of Law, 1972 PREVIOUS JUDICIAL EXPERIENCE: San Mateo County Municipal Court, 1989-1998 It was obvious to San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Carl Holm that the young woman standing before him in his Redwood City courtroom late last month had led a pampered life. A physician’s daughter, she was raised in Hillsborough and had led a hearty party life, imbibing heavily in drugs and alcohol with friends. So much so that she flipped her car four times on a freeway one day and nearly killed a passenger. After a brief interrogation, Holm, an imposing man with a stern demeanor, found the 20-year-old � who had pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and causing great bodily injury � qualified to participate in the county’s day treatment program for substance abusers. Wanting to make sure the woman understood the consequences of her actions, Holm ordered her to work in the county coroner’s office. “Wait,” the girl said. “The coroner’s office? That’s dead people, right?” “That’s right,” Holm confirmed, “dead from car accidents while driving drunk and such. That ought to wake you up.” As an added measure, Holm ordered the woman to use public transit, rather than rely on her parents, to get to the coroner’s office and treatment facilities. “See what it’s like to be one of the average Joes,” he said. “You’ve been spoiled.” Straight talk from a tough judge who felt eight years behind bars � which the girl could have gotten � would have been too much for a first offense. Attorneys who appear in Holm’s court say that decision was typical of the pragmatism he brings to the courtroom. “Judge Holm’s rulings are firmly grounded in the real world,” San Mateo County Deputy District Attorney Alfred Giannini said. Holm, 62, almost passed on a legal career. “I thought about law school many years ago,” he said, “and thought you had to be a Clarence Darrow type” to succeed. “I didn’t follow up � and went with the business world.” Specifically, Holm went to work for Ford Motor Co. as a cost analyst. It was there he met his wife, Carolyn, and they shortly found themselves living in Mexico City, where Holm was sent as a consultant for Ford of Mexico. Soon after their arrival, however, the couple’s 4-year-old son, Andrew, died of dehydration. Badly shaken, Holm gave up his job and began thinking again about law school. A proud graduate of the University of Southern California, Holm nonetheless chose Santa Clara University School of Law to begin forging his legal career. After a 1972 graduation, he went on to get his Master of Law the next year at Yale University Law School. His first legal job was teaching criminal law at Southern Illinois University School of Law. But, missing home, he moved his family � he has a son and a daughter � back to California, where he handled criminal tax law in the Internal Revenue Service’s regional counsel’s office. Holm called that the “boringest job” he ever held, which he quickly left to find his niche in the San Mateo County district attorney’s office. For 12 years, he was a major player, prosecuting several high-profile cases, including the murder trial of Donald Beardslee, who was executed last year for killing two people in a 1981 drug dispute. Holm also prosecuted Craig Anderson, whose 1985 killing of his wife was memorialized in the book “Too Good to be True: The Story of Denise Redlick’s Murder.” Holm, who presides over both criminal and civil cases, has handled his fair share of big cases as a judge, too. There was the trial of a man named Mohammed Ali, sentenced to 64 years-to-life in prison in 2001 for murdering the daughter of Pro Football Hall of Famer Fred Biletnikoff. And then there was Eddie Rapoza, sentenced to three life sentences last year for killing his wife, 4-year-old daughter and unborn fetus by driving them off a cliff in Moss Beach. Malibu solo practitioner Natasha Roit remembers Holm for awarding $30 million to her client, Kairos Scientific Inc., a chemical digital imaging company, in a legal malpractice suit. The judgment was upheld on appeal when the state Supreme Court denied review earlier this year. “He took such pains to evaluate all of the evidence, and wrote an 85-page opinion with over 200 footnotes,” Roit recalled. “You could tell he really thought about the decision and really evaluated the evidence.” Roit is busy these days representing the family of Nicole Brown Simpson in the uproar over O.J. Simpson’s attempt to publish a book about how he might have killed his wife and her friend. Though overwhelmed with media inquiries about that, Roit didn’t want to pass up the chance to praise Holm. “I found him really to be an amazing jurist,” Roit said. Mara Feiger, a former criminal defense lawyer, has kind words for Holm, too. She said she has always felt her clients got a “fair shake at justice” from Holm. Feiger represented a man before Holm who got 10 years in prison for killing a passenger when he crashed his car while fleeing from the cops. Feiger, who now handles plaintiff-side product liability cases, said Holm let the lawyers try the case without any unfair intrusions. Feiger half-jokingly said the only negative thing she could say about Holm is that he still has all the case files from the Beardslee murder prosecution under his desk. “Why do you have those dead guy’s boxes under your desk?” she asks sarcastically. “He needs to move on.” Holm’s response? “I’m a pack rat.” You can order past judicial profiles of more than 100 Bay Area judges here or by calling 415-749-5523.

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