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Judge Calvin Holden doesn’t sit back on the bench. He develops solutions to help those standing before him.
Treatment courts, as they’re called, have been a mark of his judicial career, which started in 1996. Just a year in, Holden worked with retired probation officer Ann Bagley to create a drug court helping move offenders from addiction to productive members of society. After securing funding, the drug court launched in 1998 and today has over 150 people in the program.
That started a string of treatment courts with his fingerprints on them, for intensive supervision, mental health, DWI, family dependency and juvenile delinquency. “I value my position as a judge to help the entire community,” Holden says. “I rule on cases that affect every aspect of life.”
Combined, the court programs have over 1,000 clients.
“Over 40 percent of the people in the criminal justice system have a mental illness,” Holden said of the Greene County Mental Health Court started in cooperation with Burrell Behavioral Health in 2002. “Through this court, I began working with (National Alliance on Mental Illness) concerning other issues of mental health within the community.”
The court’s treatment of drunk driving offenders through alcoholism counseling and medication has been recognized nationally and used as a model for other courts.
A key is the ability of Holden and other judges and commissioners to partner with such entities as the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, Rotary clubs and The Kitchen.
Holden’s not done. He’s currently involved with creating a domestic violence court. “We have developed amazing partnerships with all avenues of businesses in Springfield,” he said. “We have become a model for the rest of the state of Missouri and the nation on ways to address issues that impact every community.”
Holden has worked plenty of headline-grabbing cases: the fatal stabbing of a Nixa teenager, the 22-year sentencing of a man for attempted rape and assault, and perhaps most notably this year’s bizarre Blancharde family murder. In business crimes, Holden ruled on real estate fraud by The Real Estate Co. Inc. and Greenleaf Cos. LLC, and he presided in the lawsuit that broke up the co-founders of Integrity Home Care.
A 1977 political science graduate from Missouri State University who earned his law degree three years later from Drake University, Holden is among 141 circuit judges in Missouri. In 2012, voters retained him in the position for a third six-year term, upholding the recommendation of the 31st Circuit Judicial Performance Evaluation Committee.
He practiced law privately for 13 years beginning in 1980 and has served as assistant Greene County prosecuting attorney and city attorney in Republic. Holden is one of three judges appointed to the Missouri Drug Court Commission, which he’s served since 2003, to supervise the treatment courts’ $5 million annual disbursement.
“Within a very short time on the bench, it became evident that sending people with drug addiction to prison did not help those people, nor did it help society,” he says. “We have opened up dialogue with the community on how the courts can be a partner with the community.”
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